Night Whispers by Leslie Kelly
(Harl. Tempt. #747, $3.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25847-X
****
Once in a blue moon a book comes along that's so much fun, so full of life and sooo romantic that writing a review for it is hard. No matter what I do, I won't do it justice. Such is the case with Night Whispers by new author Leslie Kelly. Even with the help of the thesaurus, accurate adjectives were difficult to find. Entertaining is just too tame a word. This is pure reading pleasure.

Anthropologist Mitch Wymore is returning from a six month research trip to China. The first thing he notices as he approaches his three-story Baltimore brownstone is that the yard is no longer low maintenance. It looks like an English garden. Sure, it's pretty, but it's not how he left it, and he knows who to blame. It's none other than Kelsey Logan, his new tenant and childhood nemesis.

Kelsey and Mitch have known each other for years and years. Her adolescent crush on Mitch caused her to torment him to get his attention, all in vain. Growing up, he was closer to Kelsey's family than his own. This Kelsey of the red bikini is a far cry from the unholy urchin he remembers. While he's very much aware of Kelsey as a woman, he knows that her family trusts him. That family obligation will keep his lust in check...for a while.

Kelsey is Baltimore's newest DJ sensation, Lady Love. Her program, Night Whispers, is on from ten p.m until two a.m. Her in-depth, sensitive, sometimes funny, sometimes sultry shows are designed to make the listener think as well as feel. Her topics are rarely tame but always tastefully handled. Her listeners "were never quite sure where she would take them when they turned her on. Some nights were light and playful, some heavy and erotic. She sometimes made them laugh, sometimes made them cry...but she always made them hot."

When Mitch hears her radio program and recognizes her voice, he's shocked. This is little Kelsey, for Pete's sake. As hard as he tries to convince her to drop the format, she's just as adamant that she's doing nothing wrong. She convinces him to listen to a few more of her shows and then decide. He does and ends up eating crow, which is a nice turnabout.

What Mitch can't let go of is his fear that some kook will hear her and decide that perhaps she's speaking just to him out there in RadioLand. That's exactly what happens to her as she begins to receive gifts from an unknown admirer.

Kelsey spends the whole book making no secret of the fact that she's seriously attracted to Mitch. The poor guy has to suffer through some sensuous radio programs as he listens to Kelsey explain, for example, how fantasies are good for a relationship. And wait until you read about the costumes that she designs for them to wear to a Halloween party. Mitch has a tougher time admitting that he cares for her. His perception that he should fill the role of big brother is hard to shake loose.

Kelsey and Mitch are both written with a light touch. She's the kind of person who'd be just as happy if Mitch had given her a foam hand stating that she's #1 as she would be if he'd given her a flawless diamond. And when Mitch finally commits, there's no holding him back. Here's part of his wonderfully tender declaration of love. "She is my first thought every morning and my last wish every night. She is my past, and she is my future, and she's everything in between."

Night Whispers will thrill readers who like breezy, fun-filled stories, humor and characters who are innately good. Count me as one. Here's hoping that Harlequin signed Leslie Kelly to a multi-book contract. I'm ready for more of her kind of storytelling.

--Linda Mowery


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