Yours 2 Keep
by Kay Hooper, Marilyn Pappano, Michelle Martin, Donna Kauffman
& Jill Shalvis
(Bantam, PG, $5.99) ISBN 0-553-58167-8
***
With the proliferation of specialty themed romance anthologies, it was inevitable that some astute publisher would take advantage of the New Millennium hysteria. The five stories in Yours 2 Keep all involve "Y2K" computer mishaps on New Year's Eve 1999 that facilitate unlikely romances. The stories fall out in a bell curve distribution: the first and last are the weakest, the second and fourth are acceptable, and the third, by rising star Michelle Martin, is outstanding.

In Kay Hooper's Arts Magica, apprentice wizard Felicity Grant is obsessed with a photograph of John Sinclair, a 19th century inventor. When she conducts an experiment at midnight on New Year's Eve, her magic is bolstered by an unexpected jolt of energy thanks to the Y2K bug. Felicity winds up in 1899, face to face with the man of her dreams. The two work together to send her back to the present before it is too late. Although Hooper tries to set up conflict between Felicity's love for Sinclair and her desire to return to her own century, the effort falls flat. Part of the problem is that Sinclair is too perfect and too far ahead of his time. Without batting an eyelash, he accepts Felicity's story that she is both a wizard and a time traveler. His rather flat response to the unusual situation foreshadows the reader's response to this story.

Gabriel's Angel by Marilyn Pappano features Noelle, the guardian angel who helped several couples find love in Pappano's 1997 and 1998 Christmas novels, Season for Miracles and Some Enchanted Season. This time Noelle has unexpected company. Gabe Rawlins is shot by an unkown assailant when he stops his car at the wrong place and the wrong time. Computer glitches from the Y2K bug prevent the ambulance from arriving on time, and Gabe dies. But because it wasn't technically his turn to die, he is stuck in limbo, where he and Noelle meet and fall in love. This story is predictable, but sweet. A little more background information on Gabe before the shooting would have helped me understand why a celestial angel would fall for him.

The anthology's highlight is Stuck With You, a Michelle Martin delight. The plot is nothing new. Lauren Alexander and Griffin Sloan come from different backgrounds and are on opposite sites of the legal fence. She's a defense attorney, he works for the prosecution, and thanks to the Y2K bug, they're stuck in an elevator together. The strength of the story comes from Martin's buoyant dialogue, potent chemistry between hero and heroine and clever references to old movies, which she obviously adores.

Lauren held the penlight between her teeth, pulled a Swiss Army knife from her evening bag, and began to cut a good twelve inches off the hem of her obviously expensive dress, without wincing once.
"How did you get into this party with a weapon?" Griffin demanded.
Lauren took the penlight out of her mouth for a moment. "I promised the security guard I'd only use it on you."

After Martin's disappointing full-length contemporary, The Long Shot, this story is a promising sign that she still has plenty of great material inside her.

Donna Kauffman's Close Quarters would have been more enjoyable if its plot weren't so similar to Stuck With You, which immediately precedes it. Again, that darn Y2K glitch strands two unlikely people together. This time, the daughter of the former President of the United States and a former Presidential bodyguard are trapped in a surveillance truck. A surprise plot twist at the end boosts this story one step above mediocre.

Unfortunately, the anthology ends with a whimper. In Jill Shalvis' Trouble at Midnight, Dora Wickers spends New Year's Eve on a train, wondering if she should marry her staid, dependable but boring boyfriend, Adam Morgan. When the train stalls, once again the victim of a computer problem, Dora decides it's time for an adventure and strikes out with Adam to find help for an injured passenger. She discovers along the way that Adam is more resourceful and daring than she thought. Unfortunately, while he displays previously hidden talents, Dora is revealed to be little more than a ditzy, hysterical female who needs rescuing time and time again. She finds her hero, but I fear that Adam is going to grow weary of her helplessness before long.

On the whole, Yours 2 Keep balances out to be an average read. I must admit that I was expecting a little more originality in the stories regarding the dawn of the New Millennium, or at least more of an emphasis on the exciting prospects of the new century. I guess that's a potential theme for another anthology.

--Susan Scribner


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