The Bachelor's Bed

Blue Flame

Duets 42

Duets 57

Get a Clue

The Harder They Fall

Her Sexiest Mistake

Her Perfect Stranger

Hiding Out at the Circle C

Long-Lost Mom

Out of This World

Room Service

Seduce Me

Seeing Red

White Heat

Who's the Boss

Strong and Sexy
by Jill Shalvis
(Brava, $14.00, R) ISBN-13 978-0-7582-2182-7
I'm an old fan of Jill Shalvis's category novels: they are short, sexy and frequently quite funny. But what comes highly recommended in one genre does not always work in another. Her latest single title, Strong and Sexy, is category-type story with a lot of extra padding. Without more substantial character development and with no credible twists to the plot, the longer length does not justify the single-title price.

Everyone thinks Dani Peterson is bit weird because she's not into her step-father's millions and her mother's jet-setting life. She has given up a life of leisure and champagne for long, long days as a zoologist and even longer nights alone. Then, at a birthday party for her mother, she meets a hot, hot man and decides, for once, not to play it safe. She kisses him. In a coat closet. With people talking and drinking and partying ten feet away.

The man in question is Shayne Mahoney, one of three childhood friends who own Sky High Air (yes, the other two guys have their own books). He is quite charmed by the quirky and clumsy stranger who talks him into a kiss. He is also quite disappointed when she tells him it was a once-only experience. But he lets her go.

Dani doesn't go too far before she witnesses a murder. Although there is no body to confirm what she says, Shayne believes her. He is determined to help and protect her.

After some convincing, she accepts. They spend some more time together. Not in the closet this time, but in and out of bed (hence the R rating). After which, we're back at step two, with her claiming that she doesn't want to see him again. Once again, another threat brings her running back. Once again, Shayne agrees to help and protect her andó Well, I guess you get the picture.

The repetitive quality to the story (and the sequence happened more than twice) wasn't the only thing that bothered me. I couldn't buy the love story. The lust story maybe: Mahoney is a pretty sexy guy, and he does have a way with women. But love? Marriage? No way. Not after a few days spent between the sheets. Not from a guy who (predictably) worries about giving up his single life. Not with a woman who has some pretty serious self-esteem issues.

As for the mystery, there is nothing redeemable there. The resolution comes from nowhere, and a detail in the timing just doesn't make sense.

Of course, if you aren't interested in complicated plots and extensive self-introspection and you just want a quick, light read, Strong and Sexy wouldn't be your worst choice. It wouldn't be the best one either. You might as well go for Shalvis's category books. Your wallet would certainly appreciate the ten-dollar difference.

--Mary Benn

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