Getting Lucky

Midnight Kisses by Kimberly Raye
(Love Spell, $5.99, R) ISBN 0-505-52361-2
If you’re a fan of those old screwball comedies starring Katherine Hepburn and Carole Lombard and Cary Grant (among others), you’re likely to enjoy Midnight Kisses. If you’re willing to wink at the highly improbable plot and a large assortment of oddball characters, there’s a lot to like in this light, amusing romance.

Dr. Josephine Farrington is a scientist with Three Kisses, a toy company. For most of her life Josie’s high I.Q. and solitary childhood have hindered her social relationships. Now that she is facing the big three-five her biological clock is ticking. She is resolved to find a husband and start a family. To this end she has taken a workshop on spouse-hunting and formulated a ten-point list of compatibility points. She is dating two potential mates -- each losers of such magnitude that any sane woman with an I.Q. half of Josie’s would be running for the hills as fast as she could.

Fellow Three Kisses scientist Marvin Tannenbaum is in actuality well-known scientist Dr. Matt Taylor. Another scientist has stolen one of his inventions and he is posing as a stereotypical science nerd, working incognito until he can redeem his name and reputation. He has a major case of lust for Josie but feels that he cannot enter a relationship with a woman as long as his professional reputation is discredited.

Disappointed in her search for a compatible spouse, Josie decides to build the perfect man utilizing a synthetic skin she has invented and based on a macho toy figure produced by Three Kisses. She asks Marvin who has experience in robotics to help her develop a full-size, life-like, anatomically correct figure to be named ADAM. (There’s a tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink section where they’re discussing desirable proportions in his design.)

When Josie receives a mysterious phone call she believes to be from a friend’s cousin, the voice of her caller lights her fire in a way her two would-be suitors never could. A masked meeting between the two at a local nightspot ignites both their flames. It’s only later that Josie comes to the realization that the man she was immediately attracted to isn’t the cousin at all but --incredibly! -- dull, geeky Marvin. Josie is determined that she is going to seduce Marvin because what they have is too good to pass up.

There’s also a major subplot involving Eve Malone (ADAM and Eve, get it?) whose late, unlamented husband left her with a massive pile of debt and the in-in-laws from hell. She’s hoping to locate the missing Matt Taylor because she knows something about his dishonest co-worker and believes that she will be able to collect a lot of money with her knowledge.

I should warn you that this story gets off to a very slow start. I actually read and reread the beginning chapters three times before I finally resolved to finish the book no matter what. The first few chapters delay the main action while introducing characters and establishing backgrounds. Whenever the story’s focus shifts from Josie and Matt and onto one of the eccentric secondary characters (of which there are too many), things slow down. Josie and Matt, however, generate more heat and create more sexual tension than that between the heroes and heroines in a dozen other romances put together, and things sizzle when they’re together.

Readers who prefer intense romances with serious complications thwarting the path of true love will likely think Midnight Kisses is pure fluff. But romance shouldn’t be all pain and suffering -- sometimes fluff is good.

--Lesley Dunlap

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