Lizzie's Last Chance Fiance

Tuesday's Knight

 
Just a Little Fling by Julie Kistler
(Harl. Tempt. #808, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25908-5
***
On her thirtieth birthday, Lucie Webster is busy being the thirteenth bridesmaid at her spoiled half-sister's Scottish-themed wedding. After several glasses of champagne and several insults from her obnoxious stepmother and aforementioned sister, Lucie decides to hell with it. She's going to have a fling with one of the ushers, an old friend. After all, the reception is being held at an inn, so it will be easy to slip upstairs and have some fun. Tomorrow, she'll be back to being Lucie, safe schoolteacher.

Fate conspires against her. A series of minor mishaps ends up with Lucie unknowingly holding the wrong room key. And the sexy man who greets her in the dark and gives her a night to remember isn't her old pal Baker Burns. It's Ian Macintosh, brother of the groom, and he's just as astonished to find Lucie in his bed the next morning instead of the flirtatious blond airhead he'd half-heartedly agreed to meet.

Throw in a desperate groom who knows he's made a horrible mistake, a family bent on belittling Lucie, and Ian's own chivalrous nature, plus the sexual sparks of two people who are instantly attracted to one another, and you have a great formula for a fast-paced romantic romp. And it mostly works.

Ian wants to help his younger brother out of the mess he's made. Since spoiled sister Steffi doesn't like to share anything with Lucie, Ian figures she'll drop his brother if Ian and Lucie are an item. Therefore, they need to keep company. As soon as Steffi agrees to an annulment, they can go their separate ways. And in the meantime, they'll try to stay out of bed.

Ian works fine in this story. An Internet wunderkind, he's self-possessed and used to the chaos of family life. Helping Lucie and his brother seem like the natural thing to do. Sexy, funny, and smart, Ian makes a delightful hero, and he and Lucie generate quite a bit of heat.

Lucie only half succeeds. She deals with Ian more or less as a sassy adult, but her interactions with her family put her square in the Weenie category. This is a woman whose big dream is to resurrect her late mother's lingerie business, if she can wrest it away from her father. He'll only give it to her when she proves she can act like a mature adult. So now she's thirty years old, living in the carriage house of the family mansion, teaching school and taking the abuse of her stepmother and stepsister in order to prove that she's all grown up.

Does this work for you? Me neither.

Steffi is never meant to be anything but a caricature, and fortunately she doesn't take up much space in the story. And an occasional lapse into sitcom-style dialogue is a minor irritant. Overall, the story works.

Just a Little Fling might be just the little romance for a winter's evening. Have a look.

--Cathy Sova


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