Who's Been Sleeping
in My Bed?

Who Loves Ya, Baby?

Who Wants to be a Sex Goddess?
by Gemma Bruce
(Brava, $14, PG-13) ISBN 0-7582-1622-X
Ariadne ďAndyĒ McAllisterís aunt has gone missing while attending a for-women-only spa where participants are encouraged to explore their inner goddess. This unexpected absence wouldnít necessarily signify much were it not for the death of another guest at the spa. Suspecting foul play, Andyís family sends her to investigate.

Andy would rather be taking a holiday and pursuing a fling in Acapulco, but family is family. Thatís also the reason why she agrees to go in disguise. She ties her hair back in a bun and wears unflattering clothes. She also dons coke-bottle glasses, which ensure she stumbles awkwardly around.

Undercover agent Dillon Roth immediately suspects something isnít quite right about the recent arrival. Does the spa management have reason to believe that he is something more than a kilt-clad attendant, hired to cater to all the whims of his assigned goddess? Or is this nubile nymph the employee of some government agency, which doesnít trust him to do his job and uncover the mysterious goings-on?

Dillonís ego, along with his body, took a bad bruising several months ago when he fell into the trap set by a luscious but treacherous female spy. Luck was on his side, and he managed to save the day. Still, with all the havoc wrecked on his body and on his reputation, heís worried this gig is his last chance at his job. He is determined to resist Andyís seductive charms and keep her out of his investigation. Then, another dead body is found.

Andy and Dillon are heart-warming characters. Both indulge in highly entertaining snarky commentary, but they are not so embittered as to miss the nice things in life. Andyís ease with her body is appealing. Then again, as a Hollywood stuntswoman, she has little to complain about. Dillon is another matter. His aches, pains and scars are frequently mentioned; other infirmities loom largely when hiking with Andy. Far from making him appear wimpy and weak, they turn him into something touching and real. Despite the Brava label, sex between them is refreshingly down-to-earth, honest and healthy.

Bruce has a wonderful hand with witty commentary and funny dialogue, but she does engage in a little too much slapstick humor. I mean, honestly, how could anyone not see past Andyís disguise? And the only reason why I wasnít completely turned off by elderly widows goosing practically naked, brawny men is because the wealthy pensioners were quite sweet. I enjoyed Bruceís fun with New Age establishments much more. The titles of some of the seminars say it all: Jump-Start the New You; Juice Up Your Jealousy; Banished to the Bower of Bliss.

The mystery does not hold any surprises. Still, like the rest of the novel, it is competent and hides no glaring flaws. Who Wants to be a Sex Goddess isnít outstanding or particularly original, but it is well written and fun enough for a good laugh and a quick read.

----Mary Benn

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