Aphrodite's Kiss

The Cat's Fancy

Nobody Does it Better

Reckless

 
Intimate Fantasy by Julie Kenner
(Harl. Tempt. #840, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25940-9
****
Kyra Cartright has spent the majority of her 26 years living her life by her day planner and shouldering family responsibilities. With her father in failing health, Kyra takes it upon herself to secure the future of the family radio business, which means a marriage of convenience to man she, respects and admires, but doesn’t love. She’s made up her mind to accept Harold’s proposal, but decides to grab her one last chance for hedonistic fun, so she books a vacation to Fantasies, Inc. - an island resort that promises to cater to the guests secret fantasies. Kyra has spent her life being the good girl, and her fantasy is to experience a week full of adventure - sexual adventures, with a gorgeous, anonymous man.

Tony Moretti was on his way to realizing his dream of becoming a firefighter, when an accident leaves him with a bad back, a scarred face, and a life on permanent disability. Depressed, his best friend decides Tony needs to get away from it all, and sends him off to Fantasies, Inc. Tony soon begins living his own fantasy, disguising himself and playing hero to island guests who find themselves in trouble. When he rescues Kyra, sparks begin to fly, and soon her fantasy is coming true. As she spends steamy nights with her mystery man, she begins spending her days with nice guy, Tony Moretti. What will happen with she realizes her newfound friend is actually the guy she’s been spending passion-filled nights with?

When I first heard about Harlequin’s Fantasies, Inc. series, the cynic in me scoffed at the premise. Honestly, people living out their secret fantasies on some tropical island and falling in love is just a bit too much for me to swallow. However, I was pleasantly surprised with Kenner’s entry in this series, and even found myself letting go of the real world for 200 pages.

Kenner creates likable characters, which really make this story work. Kyra is the button-downed, responsible young woman. She isn’t thinking of her happiness or of what she wants, but instead is going ahead with what is expected of her. Her fantasy life on the island is a wake up call for the rest of her reality-filled existence, and it was nice to see her slowly realize that she is the one she has to put first in order for her to be happy.

What is it about scarred romance heroes that make so many readers go weak in the knees? Tony had just that effect on me, and his fantasy of playing the hero was convincing, as he was a hero in his former life - what more heroic than a firefighter? When he loses his job, he feels he can no longer be anyone’s hero - he’s damaged goods. As he spends time with Kyra, as both himself and in disguise, he slowly begins to realize that he can love and be loved in return.

What doesn’t work as well is the final resolution to this story. My cynicism may have taken a back seat for 200 pages, but it didn’t jump right out of the window. This story takes place in the course of one week. One week of Tony and Kyra spending time together, and most of time, Tony is playing mystery lover. It just wasn’t enough for me to believe they were madly in love. Will their newfound love make the transition when they get back to the real world? What will happen with Kyra’s family, Harold, and business? What of Tony’s transition now that he is no longer a firefighter? This story really needs to be twice as long to answer all of these nagging questions - questions that just can’t be addressed within the Temptation page limit.

That said Intimate Fantasy is the perfect book for readers who like their romance full of fun and light on angst. A nice way to unwind and forget about the real world, Kenner’s likable characters kept me interested and finishing this story in one afternoon. While my cynical side couldn’t completely let go of the real world, it sure was fun to read about a mystery lover and sunny tropical beaches.

--Wendy Crutcher


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