Touched by Fire

 
Just Kiss Me by Kathleen OíReilly
(Harl. Temptation #889, $4.25, R) ISBN 0-373-25989-1
*****
Just Kiss Me is a delightful, funny, sexy romance between an attorney and - drum roll please! - an airplane mechanic. Best of all, readers wonít find a single ranch, cowboy, sheik, secret baby, princess, or Navy SEAL anywhere. Thank god somebody over at Harlequin is getting the message. I hope.

Amanda Sedgewick is desperate. Sheís known Dr. Avery Barrington for years, and everyone assumes that theyíll get married and start producing the next generation of little Barringtons. Problem is, Amanda doesnít love Avery, and he refuses to listen to her when she tries to tell him so. Averyís the family golden boy. He always gets what he wants, and besides, heís genuinely nice. So Amanda turns to his younger brother Joe, the family black sheep. Joe is an airplane mechanic out at LaGuardia, something his family canít fathom. Joe is also hotter than any man has a right to be, something Amanda notices right after she arm-twists him into pretending to be her latest lover - in order to get Avery off her back for good.

Joe Barrington doesnít give a flip what his stuffy family wants - his passion for planes has led him into an immensely satisfying career. Heís also finally making good on his secret desire to gain his pilotís license, something heís shared with nobody. Joe knows this isnít an uptown job, but to him, itís even better. Surprisingly, the person who understands is Amanda. But sheís an up-and-coming attorney, a potential partner in her firm. Not his type. Undeniably sexy, kindhearted, and down-to-earth, but not his type.

Or is she? If Amanda has her way, Joe will soon be her real-life lover, and potentially a lot more. Time for her to dump her business-suit cocoon and become a delectable butterfly, and along the way, help Joe believe what heís been telling himself all these years - that heís just as good as Avery, even without several college degrees.

Thatís it in a nutshell, but oh, what a ride. This story has it all - a smart heroine who sees right to the heart of the hero; a hero with a few defenses, but none of the boring ďIíll never love againĒ stuff readers are force-fed in every second romance; and a spark between them that all but ignites the pages. Watching Joe valiantly struggle to keep his hands off Amanda is pretty funny. Of course he canít resist; of course you know heís doomed, and when he finally falls, itís memorable. As is the sequence where Joe screws up and tries to make amends by delivering Eggs Benedict to Amandaís door every morning for a week, complete with checklists that will make you laugh out loud.

I debated on the sensuality rating for this book. Itís hotter than youíll normally find in a category romance, even from the Temptation line. Ergo, the R rating. And that sensuality leads the story into its only rough spot - a scene of sex on a crowded subway car that had me rolling my eyes in disbelief. No way would the people in the car not notice what was going on, I donít care how crowded it was.

Category romance is alive and doing just fine, thank you, in the capable hands of Kathleen OíReilly. We need more authors like this, and more editors willing to step away from the tired and true. (And no, thatís not a typo.) Just Kiss Me succeeds on all levels. Brava!

--Cathy Sova


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