Duets 30
by Julie Kistler & Colleen Collins
(Harlequin, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-44096-0
***
In Bed With the Wild One by Julie Kistler

Emily Chaplin, tax lawyer, knows her life is boring. She decides to take a walk on the wild side by changing restaurants for lunch. Then she overhears a fascinating conversation between a man who looks like a thug and the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen. One or both of these men have done something illegal and are in trouble. Impulsively, she decides to follow Tyler O’Toole (the gorgeous one, of course) from Chicago off to San Francisco.

It takes her a while to shed her image. She registers at the same bed-and-breakfast that Tyler does. She gets the “Pollyanna” room. He gets “The Wild One” room. But Emily works very hard to change. By the time things are over she has been found in her underwear in Tyler’s room, gone to a strip joint, hit bad guys over the head and generally had a much wilder weekend than she ever had before. And, yes, she and Tyler work together as a team to foil the bad guys.

In Bed with the Pirate by Colleen Collins

Bed-and-breakfast owner Kate Corrigan had always longed for a real-life pirate to come and sweep her off her feet. She has had to settle for boring dates and peeks at the handsome (and attached) neighbor next door. Unfortunately the neighbor, besides being attached, seems pretty boring as well.

Well -- he does until he arrives at her place one morning dressed only in red underpants. That tends to get Kate’s attention -- especially since her mother has just arrived for a visit as well. He has stalked out of his house because his girlfriend was there with someone else. Somehow, Kate manages to get Toby Mancini into a pirate’s outfit and his personality undergoes a dramatic change. He seems to turn into a much more dangerous guy than she had believed he could be. Then she gets him out of that outfit again . . .

Both stories in this two-for-one book have the same setting -- a bed-and- breakfast in San Francisco with some interestingly decorated bedrooms. Both stories work with romantic comedy. And both have similar flaws and virtues.

Romantic comedy is tough. This Duets weren’t as funny as romantic comedy should be, but it had some good points, too. Sometimes the plot and characters got a little too frenetic. For The Wild One the heroine, in particular, jumped from stodgy lawyer to klutzy bubblehead to private eye and sometimes back again within a page or two. On the other hand, I did think some of the scenes had funny bits -- like when the hero and heroine are strapped together in a close embrace and left in a closet.

The Pirate had some similar problems with all the characters. OK, Mom was having a mid-life crisis, so maybe she was allowed a few more personality changes. But Kate varied all over the place from tongue-tied klutz to inventive plotter. Toby was better at his gradual change from stood-up stodgy to dangerously sexy pirate, but I really can’t believe he would never get a normal outfit for days. (He must have secretly had a thing for skin-tight leather pants.)

Although neither the characters nor the plots hung together really well, I got a chuckle or two out of each, however.

--Irene Williams


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