To Do List
by Lauren Dane, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-876-3

Poor Belle Taylor. The moment she walks in through the door of Rafe Bettencourt's place, her crush Rafe sweeps her into a kiss that has her thinking that, at last, at last, YES... until it seems that he's kissing her due to a strategically-placed mistletoe over their heads. She and her brother Brian are spending Christmas at their parents' place but Belle is lodging at Rafe's big house due to Brian's house currently being renovated. That's of course a convenient way to get those hormones going in between eggnogs. Rafe thinks that Belle is rather anal-retentive, but now that she's in his place looking hot enough to eat, he's starting to have some naughty thoughts about his best buddy's sister.

To Do List is all the clichés you can think of associated with the whole "my brother's best friend" and "city gal and country farmer" storylines. They are all here in an early Christmas package all good to go. However, author Lauren Dane manages to put these otherwise tired clichés together to give a pretty enjoyable story. There is actually some credible attempts on the author's part to show that Rafe and Belle aren't just two overly-hormonal people having sex and pretending that they are in love. These characters talk and there are even moments when Ms Dane subvert the clichés in her story by having her characters behave sensibly instead of just following the formula blindly. For example, Rafe gets all emo about how Belle has a life of her own in the big city and tries to drive her away. That's standard dimwit hero behavior. But how Belle and other secondary characters deal with Rafe, however, isn't that predictable or formulaic.

Sure, this one won't win any awards for innovation anytime soon, but all things considered, this one could very well make a pretty good read if you are looking for something short and quick.

Rating: 81

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