by Ashleigh Raine, contemporary (2003)
Ellora's Cave, $2.99, ISBN 1-84360-518-X
In Acting On Impulse, Samantha Layton believes that her biggest worry at the moment is getting her two-year old daughter Gina potty-trained. But that problem is nothing compared to what happens when Samantha's room mate Blaina Triton, a professional stunt woman, gets them both invitations to a Hollywood producer's party. The party is as fabulous as you'd imagine a Hollywood-style bash will be (think drugs, alcohol, and plenty of indiscriminate sex) but our single mom/bakery shop owner heroine stays in the background as she feels awkwardly out of place with her rather ample-sized body. Plus, that thong she is wearing is really killing her.
Hotshot up-and-coming Connor Clarey - I'm surprised his agent, manager, or PR fellow hasn't made him change his name - in the meantime is also not willing to join the party games. You see, our poor darling has fast become jaded with the social whirl in his world. He's looking for that one special woman who can make him lose control and actually climax (the poor man is known to go all night without getting off, much to the delight of his partners). As he is about the leave the party, he spots Sam who is telling her daughter a bedtime story through her phone. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Cinderella-style "Jane gets her prince" story in Acting On Impulse is nothing I haven't come across before but oh my, the author spins such a lovely naughty Cinderella fantasy for Sam that I can't resist. What I really like is how Sam and Connor have this cute moment of adorable banter even as deep inside all they want to do is to rip the other's person clothes off and do the naughty conga. I also love how Samantha isn't afraid to have a quickie with Connor. She doesn't read too much into it and she doesn't expect anything more - as she should be - but she isn't afraid to give herself an experience to remember.
This short story doesn't afford the author the luxury of expanding Connor into a more fully-developed character, but he comes off like a decent guy here who wants to be an actor while giving the whole Hollywood party scene a miss since it isn't his thing. Sam however is a nicely-drawn heroine who is refreshingly normal for a heroine who has a lousy ex-husband who decamped when she was seven months pregnant with Gina. It is usual for such heroines to be bitter or to have no self-esteem where their looks are concerned, but Sam is a woman who isn't afraid to have fun with a hot guy. She has very realistic expectations of her impulsive fling with Connor. I adore a heroine who doesn't treat every sexual experience she has as a matter of life and death. Sam also doesn't wail that she is a whore for having a one-night stand. Sex is sex, it is good, and it's been a long time she's had any fun with a guy, so Sam has no regrets at all.
I am not fully convinced that these two people can fall in love so quickly but I'm not going to nitpick too much on that. Ms Raine sells me this escapist fantasy so well that I'm all aboard with it from start to finish. The two characters are so adorable together. I love how Acting On Impulse manages to be so sweet and so naughty at the same time. If this book is longer - and has less running sentences - I'd have happily given this a much higher rating. As it is, I'm still loving this one.
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