has also reviewed:

Born In Fire
Born In Ice
Born In Shame
Captive Star
Daring To Dream
From The Heart
Hidden Star
Inner Harbor
The MacGregor Brides
The MacGregor Grooms
The MacGregors: Alan~Grant
Megan's Mate
Montana Sky
Once Upon a Castle
Secret Star
Rising Tides
True Betrayals
Waiting for Nick
The Winning Hand

The Perfect Neighbor
By Nora Roberts
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1232, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-24232-8
If anyone is planning to try a category romance for the first time, or if you'll only read one category all year, The Perfect Neighbor would be the ideal book to choose. It can't get much better than this.

The latest installment of the Clan MacGregor focuses on honorary granddaughter Cybil Campbell and Preston McQuinn. It is, by far and to date, the strongest story in the next generation. The other grandchildrens' stories were all good, but often relied as much on the charm of the elder MacGregors as on the main characters. Cybil and Preston stand on their own. Any pleasure we MacGregorphiles take from visits with other family members is strictly a bonus.

Cybil Campbell is a cartoonist like her father, but with her mother's cheery disposition. She lives in New York City in a small converted warehouse, where all of the neighbors know one another. Preston McQuinn is the moody, unsociable man who just moved in across the hall. He wants nothing more than to be left alone to play his saxophone and write his plays, which makes him all the more intriguing to the neighbors. Those who've read the other books will recognize the subtle flavor of Grant and Gennie's story, One Man's Art, in that of their daughter just enough to make it fun.

Cybil has been fixed up by her well-intentioned neighbors once too often this week. She's already been on a painfully dull date with her friend Jody's cousin, and simply can't stomach the thought of dinner with Mrs. Wolinsky's nephew, Johnny. In desperation, she claims she already has a dinner date with Preston. Of course, since everyone knows everyone else's business in the building, they must then actually go on a date, lest everyone find out that she lied. She offers Preston $100 to go to dinner with her; thinking he'd probably welcome the money and the meal. He agrees, and so begins a wonderful romance.

The characters are vintage Nora Roberts well-drawn, unique, and with their own distinct quirks and personalities. Cybil is bright, youthful and spunky; Preston is dark and brooding. Once Cybil charms her way past his defenses, Preston reveals a terrific sense of humor. There are one-liners and dialogues here that will surely become classics. Some of the more hilarious moments take place in conversations between Cybil and her pal Jody. MacGregorphiles will appreciate meeting up with Daniel and Anna and Gennie and Grant again.

This book pushed all the right buttons for me. There was a great deal of humor, but also plenty of heartwarming and tender moments, as well as passionate ones. Those of you who have been following the MacGregor series will love this installment. Those of you who have yet to read one will find The Perfect Neighbor to be a wonderful introduction.

--Diane Grayson

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