Once Upon A Kiss
by Nora Roberts, Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan; and Marianne Willman, paranormal (2002)
Jove, $7.99, ISBN 0-515-13386-8

New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts and three not-so-bestselling cohorts of hers are back with the fifth instalment of "Give Us Some Petty Cash Money" series. Like the previous four rather dire instalments though, this one is mostly drek, except for Nora Roberts' Joss-Whedon rip-off A World Apart.

In A World Apart, Kadra the Demon Slayer (snigger) from an alternate dimension crashes onto modern-day naked Harper Doyle, a man of guns and ammos, to do some kill-kill on flesh-eating demons that have invaded our Modern Earth. In the meantime, Kadra also finds time to learn about how having soulmates bonking you is the best kind of bonk. Or something.

While Joss Whedon needn't worry if Firefly crashes and burns, as Nora Roberts won't be reaching the heights of his greatness anytime soon, A World Apart is pretty cute, really. Even if I wish Kadra has a wider vocabulary. If she says "I'm Kadra the Demon Slayer and this is my destiny" one - more - time, I'm going to kadra her ass all the way back to her backward planet.

Incidentally, Kadra ain't no Seasons One to Three wise-cracking strong heroine Buffy. She's more like Kendra, the dead, too-serious dunce slayer - remember her?

Jill Gregory tells of a story of feuding wizards in Impossible. You can tell that this is a Dumbabore Romance Novel Thing because apparently, the best way to end a feud is to have the two feuding parties shagging like rabbits. Lovely, really. Can we get all the Middle East leaders to shag each other in one giant UN orgy, watched on by other leaders in unanimous approval? The Romance Novel Codex has spoken: Everybody, Let's Shag!

Anyway, yeah, inferior woman kidnapped by smarter, more talented, more experienced enemy, gets kissed and shagged, and like all those inane beauty queens will say, "World peace!"

Yeah, yeah, world peace, whatever. Let's move on.

Ruth Ryan Langan's Sealed With A Kiss is next. Heroine sold off to marriage to a Highlander named Duncan McLeon (oh please) for the sake of Daddy and to a lesser extent, her people. Since she can't sleep with her daddy for obvious reasons, she has to focus her inner Gomorrah on her new hubby instead, who kisses her and ooh, ooh, ooh! Toss reservations, toss everything, he kissed her. He KISSED her, and the world is alright again!

Let's get Saddam Hussein to kiss Osama bin Laden on the lips. We can then get Dubya and Tony to kiss-kiss too. In fact, people, let's all kiss, because like they say in those bikini catwalk parades in Miss Universe, "World peace!"

Marianne Willman's Kiss Me, Kate. Hmm. Jobless, penniless American woman inherits big English manor and is delighted. A dream come true! World peace! Okay, not world peace.

Of course, if you ask me, if I'm penniless and jobless, the last thing I want is a manor in England surrounded by twenty acres of land. Seriously, manors aren't exactly hot cakes in the market, and in the meantime, where am I going to find the cash to pay off the staff, the upkeep, the utility bills? Don't get me started about English taxes.

But our heroine happily flies over to her new place, where apparently the free-labor there feeds her with jolly expensive gourmet food nobody, apparently, has to pay for. Along the way, as our heroine oohs and aahs her way through England like a crackhead Dianaphile trying to plunder the princess' grave, she falls for an archaelogist who was also an ex-Olympic superhero. Our heroine, conveniently, has fallen in love with him ever since she first burst into tears reading about his courageous story and how he was knighted for his supreme show of valor. Or something.

This may be a novella, but the hero and heroine don't even meet until halfway into the story. The rest of the story is basically our hero and our heroine acting all goo-goo ga-ga like two rich, surgically enhanced to perfection members of the social elite snogging and doing the naked beastie. It's so riveting, really. Truly involving. Gah, I need to go clip my toenails.

Rating: 62

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