Yours 2 Keep
by Kay Hooper, Marilyn Pappano, Michelle Martin, Donna Kauffman, and Jill Shalvis; contemporary/paranormal (1999)
Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58167-8

The Y2K thing? Well, in my labs we're taking all sorts of precaution. We are moving all our important bacterial and other microbial cultures from our automated cold room to the manual one. Just in case. My husband's eco-lab is frantically making back-up copies of important files. Just in case. You won't find us telling you all this if you come about and ask us in a TV interview, no way. We'll flash our pearly white teeth and say, "No problemo. We are Y2K compatible. 100% confidence." And if Y2K does strike and we all end up in a Mad Max scenario, I have my leather Valkyrie costume ready to play Xena The Warrior Princess.

The characters in this books find love and romance when the clock strikes midnight on 31 December 1999. The world doesn't end after that - unless you count earth-shattering orgasms. The stories range from pathetic to classic. Lucky me I borrowed this book from a friend. Xerox city, here I come.

Kay Hooper's Arts Magica has Felicity Grant, apprentice to Richard Merlin and Serena from the truly wonderful The Wizard Of Seattle, lamenting the fact that because she can't find a way to control her extraoridinary powers, the Council of Magicians are going to strip her of some of her powers soon. On the New Year's Eve, she finds a time machine and a chest of notes belonging to a John Sinclair who mysteriously vanished at 31 December 1899. She decides to test the machine and zzzzzztttt! She's hurtled back to John's lab in 1899. This story has a very big flaw: it's too short to be effective. John is my type of hero, however - bookish, intelligent, sensitive, and *swoon* a nerd. And Kay Hooper writes with great pizazz.

Marilyn Pappano's Gabriel's Angel has the angel Noelle from the author's Bethlehem series finally falling in love with a man, Gabriel Rawlins who is dead and his soul is in limbo. I have Bruce Willis cast as Gabe, who is a dear man, gruff and hard-edged but a total softie at heart. A man who loves his daughter. Unfortunately, Ms Pappano cranks up the saccharine factor - the amount of sweetness permeating this story goes beyond corniness. Noelle is so sweet and saintly - she's an angel, after all - that she tells Gabriel of the beauty of sunrises and children and innocence and friendship and... This sort of thing is best done in subtle doses, but Ms Pappano bombards me with so much sentimental niceness with the delicacy of a Scud missile hitting home that I can't help but to groan. If you love watching Touched By An Angel marathons, you'd love this story utterly. Me, I find it predictable, too cloying, and Noelle is a total bore. Apologies to angels everywhere.

Stuck With You by Michelle Martin is a relief after so much sugar. This story has archrival lawyers, district attorney Griffin Sloan and defense attorney Lauren Alexander trading barbs and matching wits from being trapped in an elevator to hijacking a honeymoon penthouse suite, all in the mood for some Y2K-bugged New Year's Eve naughtiness. For a short story, I started laughing from the second page to the last. Michelle Martin is truly a gem. She populates this story with wonderfully wicked characters - Lauren's mother who is giving Liz Taylor a run for her money and Lauren's naughty best buddy Carmen are two characters screaming for their own funny story - and zinger lines that have me laughing out loud. Both Griffin and Lauren and closet romantics and lovers of 60's and 70's romantic movies. They drop classic lines and movie references at a drop of a penny. Best of all, Griff and Lauren fall in love, and I have a time of my life watching them get there. A true keeper! What it is doing here as a short story, stuck between pretty average stories, is beyond me.Thank God for Photocopy. Oh, and Ally McBeal, eat your heart out. Memo to David Kelley: contact Michelle Martin ASAP.

Donna Kauffman has heroine and former First Daughter Veronica Rourke breaking into a mysterious RV camped on her family property in Close Quarters. After all, she's pretty sure that RV belongs to some dirty rotten papparazzi idiots out to snap photos of her prancing around naked or some other sleazy stuff. Only that the RV belongs to her former bodyguard and Secret Service Superhero Dylan McTaggert, out on some big secret mission on behalf of her father. They get all cozied up in the RV, thanks to the computers in the survelliance vehicle getting all haywired out by Veronica's sabotage and the Y2K bug. They share a lot of intimacies as well as body heat, but ultimately, like Ms Hooper's story, the short length hampers it from rising above being just ho-hum average.

And for the grand finale, we have a really pathetic story by Jill Shalvis. I haven't heard of this author, but I sincerely hope that her full-length work will be better than this annoying, irritating thing. Dora Wickers is about to marry boring staid Adam Morgan. She is uncertain, of course, that marriage to this man is the right thing to do. The train she's on with Adam shuts down thanks to you-know-what, and they both decide to go seek help for an injured passenger. They find Big Adventures along the way, Adam shows that he is one McGuyver dude in disguise, and Dora marries him in the end without reservations. Frankly, I don't care. Dora is an idiot who needs rescuing all the time from stupid nonsense she gets into time and again, and oh, she's shrill too. And stupid. Sample of her conversation? You sure you want me to do this? You sure? Okay.

You're so tan. Why is a banker tan?

Please, I'm a big girl now.

You're... you're yelling at me again...

She sounds like a 13 year old girl. At least Lolita is brainy. This woman has the intelligence of a flea. Both of them are freezing, and Adam asks her to shed off her clothes so that they can hug and stave off hypothermia. She protests - surely they're not going to have sex now? In the beginning of the short story, she is reluctant to marry Adam because he is boring. At the end of the story, she is reluctant to marry Adam because he is superman in disguise, rescuing her from all the nonsense she gets herself into. What a peabrained woman.

The quality of writing is pedestrian. Perhaps it is best summed up by the sentence that acts as the pinnacle of Dora's sexual arousal during their naked huddling:

He was hard as a rock. And huge.

All good book reports require a summing up, so here goes. Yours 2 Keep? Not exactly. Kay Hooper and Donna Kauffman have good stories, Michelle Martin's is superb, Marilyn Pappano's... well, it needs extra large dousing with salt and pepper, and you don't want to know my suggestion on what that pages of the last story can be used for.

Rating: 65

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