An Offer He Can't Refuse

Beginning With Baby

The Care & Feeding of Unmarried Men

Do Not Disturb

First Comes Love

Must Love Mistletoe

Wish You Were Here

Not Another New Yearís
by Christie Ridgway
(Avon, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-06-114021-X
Well, as the song goes, one year is over and a new one is here. If you want to postpone your return to reality, give Not Another New Yearís a try. Thereís a lesson to be learned there on how mindless and overdone routines (like celebrating yet another New Year or reading the same old romance storyline) can have refreshing appeal.

In San Diego for New Yearís Eve, Hannah Davis is determined to make up for her four-year dry spell. She has spent most of those years engaged to a soldier who has recently died a hero. As she prepared to mourn him, she discovered he hadnít bothered to inform her he had married someone else. No wonder the girl has a lot of insecurity issues. On the look-out for a consolation prize, Hannah gets Tanner Hart.

The ex-secret service agent is going through his own dry spell - but whatís a mere eleven months to Hannahís four years? Tanner has his issues, and here he outdoes Hannah: he feels guilty for the events which play out in Must Love Mistletoe. He is responsible for the death of a fellow agent; responsible for the loss of another agentís eye; responsible for the media frenzy surrounding him and some celebrity princess; and, yes, even responsible for the bad weather. Tanner doesnít think he deserves or needs or wants a woman. But apparently, when one dry spell meets another, you get some explosive action.

Or you would if one of the dry spells didnít fall asleep before anything could happen. That would be Hannah. She wakes up the next day in Tannerís bed, quite ready to put her first one-night stand behind her. Fate and the imperatives of the plot decree otherwise. Her uncle, a head honcho at the secret service and Tannerís former boss, has ordered Tanner to give her a tour of San Diego. Sex between them is inevitable and inevitably explosive. In between testing out different positions, they take a mellow but sincere look at their issues.

Thrown in there is a subplot about Tannerís brother, Troy, and Desirť, the princess who was caught kissing Tanner eleven months earlier. They too have issues and dry spells. The daughter of an American model and an Arab prince, Des has the part of the spoilt little rich girl with an unspoken wish to be loved. It takes the tough, battle-weary ex-Marine a while to realize this. When he does, things between them are similarly explosive. Predictable as their story sounds, it is sweet and touching and all in all well done.

That, in more than two words, is my verdict for the novel as whole. It may be thin on character, thin on plot, but itís still worth a read - and not just because itís thick on sex. Although weíve heard this story many-a-time and seen these characters once too often, they come alive long enough to captivate and charm. If youíre after a well- written, light-hearted piece of fluff (and yes, sometimes thatís exactly what I want), Not Another New Yearís might be just the thing.

--Mary Benn

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