His Private Pleasure
by Donna Kauffman, contemporary (2002)
Harlequin Blaze, $4.50, ISBN 0-373-79050-3


Liza Sanguinetti isn't too keen on returning to her old life in Hollywood yet - she was a public relations guru to the stars before this - so after attending a friend's wedding, she decides to drive around to this lil' place called Canyon Springs in New Mexico, only to halt her blue roadster convertible when she spies a tight hot butt enclosed in smiley-face briefs dangling cutely from a tree.

The butt belongs to the sheriff, Dylan Jackson. He's an ex-cop from Vegas. Once he does a NYPD Blue thing with mob bosses, now he has to climb up trees to rescue his mother's Moluccan cockatoo (that's a bird, in case you're wondering). He doesn't like Liza laughing at him, but he perks up when he sees how well she moves around the backseat of her car - she's like a pro actually.

Maybe I can overlook the "Ex-cop turned sheriffs are the best! City gal ditches big time for small town love!" propaganda of this story - it's a Harlequin Blaze after all - what is really cute about this story is that Liza and Dylan are two very well-matched characters having the time of their lives laughing and falling in love. This isn't a virgin school fantasy or a sexual healing of the heroine thing - if Dylan has been around the block, he'd probably cross Liza's path while doing the rounds, if you know what I mean. In fact, both characters playfully try to be the one on top, and their games involving handcuffs could have burned down the town in a Carrie-proportion orgasmic Chernobyl.

There have to be the kooky mother who wants to see her son wedded and a little external drama in this story, but these familiar elements never overpower the raison d'etre and joy that is this story: Liza and Dylan getting it on. The sex scenes in this book that seem to just go on and on - how lovely - but at the same time, I really get this impression that those two bed boppers really are fond of each other. The simple resolutions to their problem and the familiar secondary characters and plot are there to prevent this book from being too original, but Liza and Dylan really make my day. Two people who really enjoy each other's company while flirting, exchanging playful barbs, and learning how right they are for each other in a simple story that doesn't try too hard to complicate itself, that's what this book is. And the pleasure it offers is equally simple and uncomplicated.

I had a really great time reading this book. I like Liza - she flirts, she makes the first move if she feels like it, and she doesn't have problems having fun with guys - while I love Dylan for being an adorable guy who is simultaneously attracted to and bewildered by this spunky city gal who roars into town one day, ogles his butt, and turns his life upside down. Everything about these two - the humor, the sizzling sexual tension, and the chemistry - just to fit together perfectly.

Take a bow, Ms Kauffman. His Private Pleasure has indeed been a pleasure.

Rating: 94


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