Hot Off the Press
by Nancy Warren
(Harl.Tempt. #915, $4.25, R) ISBN 0-373-69115-7
***
Tess Elliot is determined to prove she is more than just the spoiled daughter of one of the richest men in town. Turning her back on her familyís society life style, Tess takes a job as a movie reviewer at a local paper, hoping to some day make it as a serious reporter. Her only stumbling block is the handsome Mike Grundel, a reporter from a rival paper.

Mike was demoted from news reporting after a source backed out on him, invalidating an exposť article about prominent businessman Ty Cadman. Mike knows Cadman is involved in dirty deals; he just needs to prove it, something heís never going to do writing movie reviews.

When the opportunity to uncover more of Cadmanís dealings arises, neither Tess nor Mike can resist the chance to make a name for themselves on the news scene. They make a bet as to who can get the story to press first, but eventually begin working together as their respect, and attraction, for each other grows.

Hot off the Press is a classic opposites attract tale. Tess is from a wealthy, prominent family while Mike is a kid from the wrong side of the tracks. She likes cerebral, emotional films and he likes shoot Ďem up action flicks. Tess likes salad and tofu; Mike is lucky if he eats three meals a day that arenít from a drive-thru. Although itís fun to see the way their differences collide, at times the opposites trick is a bit forced. For example, at the theater Tess only gets a club soda while Mike gets a huge buttered popcorn and soda. I donít know many movie theaters that serve club soda.

Tess is the typical rich girl who wants to be taken seriously by others. She shuns her parentsí wealth and is determined to make her way on her own. Tess, however, lives her poor reporterís life in the way only a woman with a trust fund to fall back on can. She finds it fulfilling, satisfying and fun. Thatís because she can stock her pantry with expensive organic foods and save money for a trip to Italy, albeit a cheap one. Not to mention paying the insurance on her spiffy BMW from Mom and Dad. They must be paying fresh out of college journalists a lot more than they were in my day. Itís just one of the many little things that irritated me.

Then there is Mike. At first glance Mike is not such a bad guy. He likes to play the chauvinistic male, but really heís a decent guy. His love of cooking is a cute change of character for him. The problem is his attitude towards love. First he declares that he is ďallergicĒ to commitment. Ok, some guys are like that. Itís when he finally finds himself falling for Tess, yet continues to insist that it can just never work that annoys the reader. Theyíre too different, he insists, it can never work. Never mind that Tess has never really given him cause to think that. He just doggedly keeps reciting that, causing the only real barrier to their relationship.

There is also way too much internal monologue going on. Tess has a crush on Mike, should she admit it? Mike wants Tess, but he they can never work it out. They make love; both agree itís for one night only. Then Tess starts wondering if she can live with that decision. Mike thinks he wants more than one night but theyíre too different, it will never work out, and so it goes. One plus is the two of them actually talk to each other in addition to themselves, which is makes for good communication. Surprisingly, for a Temptation title, there are not many love scenes, although the few of them are quite well done.

Finally, there is a bizarre twist at the end of the book regarding some secondary characters that makes the reader boggle. Earlier in the novel we are introduced to a happily married couple Caro and Jonathan. Caro is Tessí best friend while Jon is Mikeís. Theyíre not around long, just enough to give Mike and Tess a little push together. So it is very strange when late in the book, out of nowhere, Tess announces that Caro and Jon have separated. Mike then says he knows and brings up something about Caro catching Jon in bed with another woman. It is discussed for about a page and all the while the reader is wondering, why is this here? The answer comes when the last page of Hot off the Press is turned. There is an add for Nancy Warrenís new Duet title which is, you guessed it, the story of Caro and Jon.

--Anne Bulin


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