Up To No Good
by Julie Elizabeth Leto, contemporary (2003)
Harlequin Blaze, $4.50, ISBN 0-373-79104-6


I'm sure we can all state with certainty by now that nine out of ten couples in Harlequin Blaze novels do really stupid things for sex. Apparently for Harlequin Blaze authors, it is really tough to find reasons to justify a couple having sex. I don't know why, but I do know that in a different book, Michaela "Micki" Carmichael and Sebastian "Bas" Stone will be a really good couple. In Up To No Good, they are just two more butt monkeys in a freak show.

This book is related to Looking For Trouble. Micki is the once-lost now-reunited twin sister of Rory, the heroine of Trouble. Previously, Micki has befriended a junkie, Danielle Stone, and Up To No Good kicks off with Micki dragging Danielle from the girl's latest brush with OD to her brother Bas. Bas will send her to a good rehab facility. When Bas and Micki meet, sparks fly.

The problem starts with Danielle asking Micki on the plane, "Tell me your most secret fantasy." Whoa, this has to be a first: a lesbian Harlequin Blaze! I eagerly turn the page. Alas, Danielle is not interested in Micki, not in that way at least. As it turns out, Danielle is trying to learn of Micki's secret sex fantasies so that she can relate them to Bas and ask Bas to fulfill them for Micki as his reward to Micki! I'm impressed that a junkie on the verge of being OD'ed can still pause in her shakey-shakies to do that matchmaking thing, but seriously, the whole thing about the sister pimping out her brother to her rescuer is too creepy for my taste. I don't mind the scene where Bas spies on Micki masturbating, even if the build-up to that scene is more contrived than a porn movie plot, but I do mind the whole set-up of this story.

I like Bas and Micki as a couple, and in another plot, I will like their story. But with every turn of the page, some annoying voice keeps booming in my head, repeating that "Tell me your most secret fantasy" thing until I want to scream. I cannot get past the whole artificial set-up of the story. The more I read the story and the more I think that Bas and Micki aren't too bad really, the angrier I get because these two characters are wasted in a really bad plot that's designed to get them naked and sweaty for the most ridiculous reasons. I cannot get past the set-up of this story to enjoy this story at all.

Up To No Good just drives home the unfortunate result that can occur when authors devise really outlandish plots to get their main characters in bed together. If this story has removed that sex book nonsense, the whole creepy sister pimp angle, and just has Bas and Micki knowing each other and dating before falling into bed once their chemistry clicks into place, this book will be so fine to read. As it is, Up To No Good is just no good at all.

Rating: 50


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