Keeping Up Appearances
by Jennifer McKinlay
(Flipside, $4.50, G) ISBN 0373-44213-0
***
Keeping Up Appearances is a very enjoyable romance with one flaw. The heroine is a wimp around her mother. She is great in all the other ways, and if you can get past this one issue, the rest of the story is engaging and fun. If you can't, you won't enjoy it.

Hailey Fitzwilly is an ex-ad exec who needed to get out of the high pressure of advertising. She lost her boyfriend when he dumped her and she lost a big account, prompting her to go into business with her friend teaching yoga. She loves it. She has found her element.

The only problem is Hailey's mother, Selma. Selma wanted to be accepted in high society in the worst way, and is only mildly tolerated. She wants the best for her daughter. Selma thinks Hailey is still working and is soon to be engaged to the boyfriend, an up-and-coming pediatrician; she thinks their marriage will gain Hailey entrance into the country clubs and society will adore her. Selma has this so set in her mind, Hailey feels she just can't disappoint her. It is now time for the annual Children's Hospital Charity Auction. Hailey agrees to get a custom motorcycle donated. She approaches the owner of a chopper shop and feels like this will be a breeze.

But Hailey didn't count on Kid Cassidy. Kid is the owner of the Chop Shop where her brother bought his motorcycle. Kid is a great guy, but his business partner and office manager just ran off, leaving him high and dry and with a serious cash flow problem. Hailey convinces Kid to let her run his shop while he builds the bike for the auction. Kid reluctantly agrees, thinking she won't last a day.

But Hailey is a great marketer and gets orders for lots of bikes in a short time. Kid finds himself working with her to build the custom bike and fighting the attraction between them. Hailey is instantly attracted and is sure her history of not being able to keep attractive guys will catch up on her. The story is about their romance and their search for happiness with each other.

Hailey is smart, enthusiastic, and caring. She knows her mind and loves her new life. She is attracted to Kid but thinks their friendship will end once the bike is done. As she discovers things about Kid, she finds out more about herself and what she can do if she gives it a try.

Kid is cute, funny, sexy, smart and a great guy, who can be macho or caring and who is comfortable in his skin. He thinks Hailey is too high class and is constantly surprised at her. He falls for her and the kids at the Children's Hospital. His warm relationships with his employees added a nice sideline to the story, too.

This brings us to the only problem I had with the book Hailey's relationship with her mother. She can't tell her she is no longer dating the doctor; nor does she tell her she is not an ad exec anymore but is a yoga instructor. No way can she tell her she is helping to build a motorcycle or working in a cycle shop. She gets ulcers around her mother. This lack of backbone just doesn't fit in with the rest of her characterization. Luckily, this didn't ruin the story for me but I had to just accept that incongruity. If a reader can't accept it, the rest of the story won't be so enjoyable.

Give Keeping Up Appearances a try it will make you laugh and give you some warm fuzzies along the way, even with the irritation.

-- Shirley Lyons


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