Catching Chase/Nabbing Nathan by Liz Jarrett
(Harl. Duets #71, $5.99, G) ISBN 0-373-44137-1
***
Catching Chase and Nabbing Nathan are two light-hearted and lightweight stories about two of the Barrett brothers. They werenít all that funny, but Iíd have to say I prefer stories like this, that give me an honest smile or two, to those that try to be laugh-out-loud funny and arenít.

Megan Kendall has been good friends with Chase Barrett for over 20 years, since he rescued her from a bully when she was eight and new to the small town of Paxton, Texas. Chase never showed any romantic interest in her, so when she went away to college she tried to forget him. A year ago, now nearly 30, Megan moved back to Paxton to be head librarian.

Chase, now a successful rancher, has always enjoy a lot of success with the local ladies and Megan, tired of apparently being the only woman he isnít interested in, decides to take drastic action. With the help of Leigh, Chaseís younger sister, Megan finagles Chase into co-chairing a fund-raising carnival with her. This has the added benefit of ensuring that they have lots of help, since every single woman in town now wants to be on the committee with Chase as well.

Thereafter follows a pleasant, but fairly predictable story as Chase first declares that he doesnít want to risk his friendship with Megan by changing things, then finds himself wondering what color underwear she has on and resenting the possibility that other men might find her attractive.

In spite of Meganís repeated requests for Chaseís family to stay out of their business, the other Barretts, and Leigh in particular, canít help sticking their oars in because itís clear to them that Megan and Chase belong together, even if Chase is reluctant to admit it.

In Nabbing Nathan, Leigh makes short work of another brotherís bachelorhood when she brings her friend Hailey home from college for the summer. Hailey needs a summer job and a place to live while she finishes her doctoral thesis in English. Leigh has promised that her brother, Nathan, will give her a temporary job as a technical writer with his successful software firm. Thereís also a little apartment over his garage where heíll let her live.

Just one problem, surprise, surprise, carefree Leigh doesnít actually clear any of this with Nathan, and just shows up with an embarrassed Hailey in tow.

Nathan is a good guy, though, and doesnít see any reason to punish Hailey for his sisterís flighty ways, so he agrees. Although there isnít a technical writing job, Nathan does need a temporary assistant and, since Haileyís pretty cute, he thinks heíd like that better than having her work in personnel.

Thereafter follows a pleasant but fairly predictable story as Nathan and Hailey first try denying their attraction because it wouldnít be appropriate for Nathan to have a relationship with his assistant and tenant, then because sheís leaving for a job at an Eastern college in the fall.

In fact, neither story has any convincing conflict; theyíre really just two nice stories of two nice couples falling love with some cute family hijinks thrown in. The lack of tension would have been more of a problem in a longer book that needed more meat to keep a readerís interest, but as it was, the stories were over before you realized how insubstantial they were.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Thereís a reason fairs and circuses sell lots of candy floss - itís a nice treat every once in a while and a break from heavier fare. It just isnít all that satisfying.

P.S. Thereís a very funny typo at the bottom of page 310. I think thatís supposed to be genteel.

--Judi McKee


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