Sizzle!
by Lori Foster and Elda Minger, contemporary (1999)
Harlequin Temptation, $3.75, ISBN 0-373-25839-9


This is a two-in-one category romance with novellas from Lori Foster and Elda Minger. The blurb promises a read that would singe my eyebrows. Well, these stories might if I've just landed on Earth from Mars and have never read a category romance before. It is one thing to rehash a successful formula, but these two stories are old.

Lori Foster's story is Body Heat, where we have the usual frigid virginal rich girl and the horny old bad boy from the wrong side of town. He's now a successful honcho with big bucks to burn while she instinctively retains her purity for his manly plucking.

Melanie Tucker and Adam Stone fall overboard from their boat one stormy night, end up in a deserted tropical Eden, and make babies while squabbling and making up. I've seen more fun in Swiss Family Robinson, at least that story is original. Adam Stone makes an appealing Robinson Crusoe in his boxers, but Melanie's yet another recycled category heroine. Too bad this isn't a movie house production - I can act frigid, I want to sign up and be a frigid romance heroine too. Think of the money I can make just scowling at my hunk!

And then we have Slow Burn by Elda Minger, a fantasy where people divorce due to the most trivial of reasons and get back together after more fun in the sun. Let's see what happens when real life intrudes once again after the second honeymoon. Ally Hennessy is enjoying life under the sun when she discovers - oooh, the outrage! - that her vacation is arranged by her ex-hubby Flynn Ryder (if this man is a heroine, I can bet there will be accusations of sexism flying in court - what a name!). Squabble, squabble, squabble. And meanwhile Ally learns the joy of being in the saddle once again, thanks to Flynn's manly riding skills. Yee-haaa! I can play a frigid scowling ex-wife too. Where do I sign up? Can I get a contract?

My friend Cyndi suggests that these repetitious plot lines are ubiquitous because (I quote her) "...some women just ovulate when they read about a hunk protecting them and caring for them even when they act like complete bozos. It's the same with babies and hunks. It arouses their protective instincts. Although when I see a bare-chested man in low-riding denims clasping a tiny girl tightly to his chest, I have to fight the urge to call the Suspected Pedophilia Pervert Alert Hotline."

Frankly I don't really care why these editors are doing this sort of recycling of plots. Perhaps they have been reading too much Cosmopolitan and believe that the modern women's sole preoccupation in life is becoming a ball-busting frigid hag by 30, then lose all brain cells and go frantic at the thought of beating the biological clock. If they think that's all I care to read about, at least they should have the decency to make my reading experience fun. This book bores me silly, so it goes straight to the dreaded UBS bag.

This book sure made me red hot. With irritation and boredom. I think my glasses steamed up too, right after I fell into my glass of water when I accidentally dozed off halfway through the book (I'm not making this up). Sizzle my bum. Hmmph!

Rating: 43


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