The Whole Nine Yards
by Donna Valentino
(Loveswept #876, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-553-44625-8
*****
Five hearts means keeper, right? Well then, the above rating is absolutely perfect for this book and yours truly. Because, for me, The Whole Nine Yards is a definite keeper. But honesty compels me to admit that perhaps one of the hearts should be in parentheses. You see, this delightful tale by Donna Valentino centers on my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers and is set in my very own hometown. So, of course, I am going to keep it!

For readers who do not spend every fall living and breathing "dem Stillers," who do not think that Kordell Stewart has the greatest grin in the world, that Bill Cowher's chin is the epitome of good looks, that the perfect fullback looks like a bus, well they can still enjoy this well told and engaging love story.

It is possible that readers who do not live in Pittsburgh or in some other football crazy city will not find the basic premise believable: that two complete strangers would apply for a marriage license so that they could become eligible to win two tickets to the AFC championship game. But I had no trouble accepting the idea. Of course, our couple win the tickets, become media darlings, and find themselves the team's good luck charm. And they also find a strange and inexplicable attraction developing.

Domenic Corso and Lynne Stanford are, at first glance, an unlikely couple. He is an Italian-American landscape architect; she is a WASP working woman on the fast track to the executive suite. He is the center of a large and loving family; she is the only child of ambitious parents who view marriage and family as merely providing "the stable baseline comforts, leaving the partners free to devote more energy to their careers." He believes in spontaneity; she has "to do" lists.

Valentino takes this odd couple and creates a scenario which showcases the humorous possibilities that arise from their deception. But she also shows how these two seemingly incompatible people are, indeed, right for each other. And Domenic is a gamma hero to die for.

I do have some problems with the ending. First, thanks to those pesky Denver Broncos, the ending is historically inaccurate (even though every Steeler fan will tell you that Pittsburgh really should have won the AFC championship! Denver Editor's Note: Wasn't I nice not to edit this?) Secondly: yes, I know how deeply in love Domenic and Lynne were and how private their luxury box at the Super Bowl was. But, I'm sorry, Donna, true fans like Domenic and Lynne would have waited until after the Steelers won the Super Bowl for you-know-what.

All in all, I found The Whole Nine Yards a delightful love story, with just the right amount of tension, just the right kind of barriers to true love, and just the right kind of humor. For most of you a recommended read. For those lucky enough to be Steeler fans, a keeper.

--Jean Mason


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