Getting Lucky by Kimberly Raye
(Harl. L&L #50, $3.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-44050-2
****
It just isn't Lucky Myers' day. First, her fare to the airport in Houston stiffs her for $80, money Lucky can't afford to lose. When she finds a wallet stuffed with cash in the back seat of her cab, she tries to return it to its rightful owner, hoping to get a reward. On the trip, she drinks a six-pack of diet soda, and when she stops to deal with the consequences, she stumbles across a cowboy swimming in the buff. Who catches her watching him. Next, she's nearly arrested as the woman who stole the wallet instead of the woman trying to return it. And when she finally comes face to face the wallet's owner, he turns out to be skinny-dipping cowboy. Nope, not her day at all.

Widower Tyler Grant's luck isn't much better. He hired a nanny from a reputable agency to convince his former mother-in-law that his daughter Bennie will grow up learning all the social graces. Only the nanny turned out to be a thief and a scam artist. He's got twenty-four hours to find a replacement but no idea how he's going to do it. When he tries to take a break from the stress with a little mid-afternoon swim, he's interrupted by a trespasser. A cute trespasser, true, but with everything else going on, the last thing he needs is entanglements.

When his trespasser turns up on his doorstep accompanied by the law and his missing wallet, he changes his mind. Maybe she's just what he needs. Maybe she can be a nanny for a day, while his mother-in-law makes a flying visit.

A good romance is dependent on its characters. This story's characters, particularly Lucky, earn it a four-heart rating. She's a sturdy survivor who's unaware of how tough she is, someone who's aware of her flaws and takes her strengths for granted, someone with a slightly off-center way of looking at things. This is a woman who looks at cattle-breeding books and thinks, "cattle prostitution." She's also someone who takes the best every moment offers her and has the ability to laugh at herself.

Tyler is a bit less appealing, mainly because of his conviction, early on, that Lucky's innocence is a put-on, a particularly clever way to hook him and reel him in. He goes along with it because it's such a refreshing scam, but he never doubts that it is a scam. Sure, he's wealthy and he's been pursued before, but I never saw anything but ego and bad experience on his part to make him think so badly of Lucky.

Fortunately, he did a couple of things that kept him from being two-dimensional. First, his devotion to his daughter's well-being is very real. His attempt to fool his mother-in-law is not driven by his desire to keep his daughter with him, whatever the cost. Instead, he wants to stop the battle over her before it starts, knowing from painful experience how hard it is to choose between people you love. Second, once he realizes that Lucky's naivete is real and not a fresher gambit than most to get his attention, he never again doubts her sincerity.

Finally, the secondary characters add to the overall good feeling I got from this book. A good example is Tyler's mother-in-law. Though a snob, she genuinely loves her granddaughter and wants the best for her. It would have been easy, too easy, to make her a wicked stepmother-like villainness. Instead, Kimberly Raye opts to make her a flawed human being with wishes and expectations all her own.

If you're looking for a well-rounded romance that's as fresh and light as an evening breeze, check out Getting Lucky.

--Katy Cooper


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