Be My Girl! by Lucy Gordon
(Harl. Romance 3529, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-03529-2
****
Five years ago, Nick Kenton's ill-fated courtship of Isobel Deakins was bushwhacked by Katie Deakins, the brat-from-hell. "Katie seemed to have taken one look at him and decided Yuk! Thereafter her hobby was winding him up and letting him down."

Isobel was a doctor in a small English town. After her parents divorced, her father moved to Australia. Isobel raised her younger sister Katie after her mother's death. Nick was smitten with Isobel. Nothing bribes, threats, pleas could dispatch Katie. Ironically, it was not Katie, but Nick's older brother Brian, who ended his romance with Isobel.

When Isobel and Brian met, it was love at first sight and they married a short time later. "Of course, he'd gotten over it, after a fashion. It was only in melodrama that a man nursed a grudge for years. In real life he made the best of things, danced at their wedding and was godfather to their children...But to the end of his days he would wonder if things might have been different, but for Katie."

While Nick may not be carrying a grudge, he's still carrying a torch for Isobel. His happily married sister-in-law is the standard by which all other women are measured. All have fallen short of the mark. Nick can refuse Isobel nothing...including her request to keep an eye on Katie during her upcoming visit to London. Needless to say, Nick, a successful banker, has misgivings about facing the bane of his romantic existence again. But he agrees, for Isobel.

Nick last saw Katie five years ago at their siblings' wedding. She was sixteen. But it seems Nick has been in a time warp and thinks Katie is "seventeenish." (Did I mention that Nick is a successful banker?) The numbers don't add up and Nick's not prepared for the 21-year-old "goddess" that appears at the train station. Ah, but beneath that goddess-like exterior lurks his old nemesis, "The Poison Pixie." Battle lines are drawn.

Lucy Gordon is a prolific author who has written more than 40 books for Harlequin and Silhouette. She knows how to tell a good story. The dialogue is crisp and funny. Although the story is somewhat predictable, there are enough twists to keep the story fresh. The light-spirited, but in no way flighty, Katie is a solid match for the stodgy 29-year-old British banker. Most of the secondary characters aid and abet the romance without getting in the way of the action.

Be My Girl! is a wonderful marshmallow of a story that will appeal to readers who like the screwball comedies of the 20s and 30s with a dose of British humor thrown in.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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