Carried Away

The Charm Stone

The Cinderella Rules

Dear Prince Charming

A Great Kisser

Heat of the Night

The Legend MacKinnon

Legend of the Sorcerer

Not So Snow White

The Royal Hunter

Sleeping With Beauty

Tease Me

Walk on the Wild Side

Your Wish is My Command

Here Comes Trouble
by Donna Kauffman
(Brava, $14.00, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-7582-3133-8
Here Comes Trouble is a whole lot of trouble for Kirby Farrell’s hard-won peaceful retreat from the world, and a lot of fun to read.

Kirby is a forty-year-old, independent lady who has just opened a B & B in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the culmination of her dreams and a lot of hard work.  Unfortunately, it’s December and you can still see the grass.  With the amazing lack of snow for skiers, there’s an amazing lack of guests and Kirby doesn’t know how she’ll get through the season if the dry spell keeps up.

Along comes Brett Hennessey, an adorable stranger who tools up to the Pennydash Inn on his Harley, looking for a place to crash after weeks of running and thinking about what he wants to do with his life now.  Brett looks travel-worn and exhausted, but Kirby’s instantly attracted to his gentle manner and great looks.  She realizes that he’s a) a paying customer (finally…) and b) much younger, so she thinks that he’ll be a nice view for the length of his stay but not much else.

That’s not quite how the story plays out as Brett and Kirby decide to really explore their attraction early on, and the chemistry is off the charts.  They do plenty of talking too, which explains both of their unconventional, fairly sad childhoods that have led them to their current lives.  Kirby is an open book, with her charming Inn and straightforward manner.  Brett, on the other hand, is a real enigma to Kirby until she hears from the local sheriff that she has a celebrity staying at her B & B – it turns out that Brett is a multi-millionaire poker star who’s recently retired from the game.

This news really throws Kirby for a loop, as it’s unexpected.  She doesn’t know how to reconcile the quiet, sweet Brett with his legendary status, and she wonders if he’s just using her as a short distraction from his glamorous life.  Brett, on the other hand, took off from Las Vegas to consider his next move.  He’s actually well-educated but poker is all he’s ever done, work-wise, and the pressure to come back is intense.  Sponsors and resort owners are all over him, trying to entice him back.  When he started saying no, a bad luck streak started.  Not at the tables, but a series of unfortunate, malicious coincidences that were causing great grief to his loved ones in Vegas.  So Brett left on his motorcycle, not stopping until he reached Kirby – and he’s hoping that his bad luck has been left behind permanently.

Here Comes Trouble is a thoroughly modern love story – it has some fun details that could only happen in recent times.  Brett’s college-professor brain mixed with his poker star façade and his bad-boy looks is a potent, interesting package.  Brett is funny, well-spoken, honest, sexy and has a great sense of humor,  He’s almost too good to be true, until Kirby finds out about his former profession, and his shady string of bad luck.  She’s uncomfortable and their relationship is too new to really trust.  The way the story plays out reinforces how real, and sympathetic Kirby seems.  I loved that Kirby is 40 – a non-teenagerish heroine for once – hooray!  I loved that she has baggage from past relationships, that she is hard working and broke and terrified by the prospect of Brett being any kind of permanent fixture in her boring, steady life.

The only things that stopped this book from being one of the best of the year are:  Kirby, for such a mature, level-headed lady sure jumped into bed with Brett quickly enough to make my head spin.  It made her seem pretty desperate and I can’t really fathom that hitting the sheets within a couple of days of meeting someone would help build a very strong foundation for a couple.  Kirby continually muses that she doesn’t know Brett very well, yet she’s not often using her mouth for conversation when they’re hanging out.

The other sore spot for me was Brett’s willingness to make snap decisions.  While Kauffman does get credit for attempting to explain that Brett needs a change, it seems way unreal at the pace that’s set in the story.

That being said, I liked spending a few hours with Kirby and Brett, who come off as people you might actually meet in a lot of ways, and their love story is a good read that I recommend.

-- Amy Wroblewsky

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