Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-7221-X
Mixed Genre Romance, 2001
From sex-mad alien voyeurs (and I’m talking about aliens from outer space here) to amnesia martyrdom to pleasure paradise R&R, Slow Heat has it all. But here’s my PSA: none of the stories are new despite the 2001 copyright date of this anthology. Stella Cameron’s story is a 1997 reissue, Lisa Jackson’s was previously a 1988 Loveswept written under the pseudonym Susan Crose, and Jill Marie Landis’s was first published in 1977. Spookily enough, the 1977 one is the least irritating.
Stella Cameron kicks off the show with her silly Early in the Morning. Heroine Chloe Dunn is a mousy librarian who wants to have sex. But her hubby-to-be Steven Early insists on waiting until the wedding night. He never does anything more than kiss-kiss during their supposedly steamy and romantic courtship. Chloe insists that she loves him the mostest, but oh, why won’t he run his hands – and more – all over her librarian centerfold body?
Never mind, curious aliens will abduct these two and make them have sex. I’m not joking. Okay, it’s not exactly a sex-in-a-glass-case spectacle, more of a suggestion implant thing, but soon, our two lovebirds are all hot and heavy. The aliens are delighted. I wonder how the heck did I end up reading this story. Let’s see… there was that left turn around Roswell… how did I get here?
Lisa Jackson’s The Brass Ring is what happens when an author overdoses on bad daytime soap opera. Tennis pro superstar Parker Harrison and doctor Shawna McGuire are supposed to be married, until an accident claims Parker’s memory. As Shawna, who is a doctor at a public hospital that for some reason never have to go to work or anything, tries to help Parker remember, out comes all the dirty secrets like Parker’s probable infidelity and all. Oops.
This one is called a “classic” – is it? But the author says that her book is a classic, and I’ll go with it. This classic (remember, Ms Jackson said it, not me) is an irritating and obvious ploy to manipulate me. When one problem is solved, another props up neatly in line. It’s like following a conveyor belt in a toy factory. Finally, Ms Jackson runs out of contrived problems and pulls out the mother of all contrivances: drive her away, because he is smelly stuff and it is for her own good! Oh, just kill me, somebody.
Ah, Jill Marie Landis’s Summer Fantasy. Heroine Kylee Christopher is as dumb as a brickhouse, the hero Richard Pau… okay, “pau” in my language means those round, chubby meat buns that resemble the shape of a baby’s backside. Sorry, but whenever Rick Pau comes into the scene, I lost it. “Pau, pau, lemme have a bite… ooh baby!”
Kylee may have won a zillion best screenwriter awards last year, but she is now in trouble. She has writer’s block. What to do but to go to Hawaii and get romanced by the hunky hotel guy? But instead of a nice story of sun, wine, and widespread legs and arms flailing in uncontrollable ecstasy under moonlit nights or something, we have Kylee adamantly insisting that she will not look at Pau-pau Boy here, she will not kiss – muah, muah – she will not touch – ooh, ooh – she will not shag – aaaah, waaaahhhhh – she will not – nooo, nooo… Nice sun, nice beach, nice Pau-Pau Boy, but the heroine must be lobotomized by aliens while she was asleep on the way to Hawaii (hey, aliens in Early in the Morning, ‘fess up!). The soundtrack is horrible, filled with groanings and moanings of the wrong sort. Yes, yes, Hawaii is pleasant, but Kylee is horrible.
Slow Heat just simmers, sometimes in silliness, sometimes in contrivances, but it never actually reaches boiling point. All in all, this is a nice anthology to read when one need to pass the time in temporary and forgettable moments of harmless fluff. Come on, an anthology with Pau-Pau Boys, horny aliens, and manufactured amnesia… this one may as well come with a beach foldable chair and a two-way ticket to Bahamas. Hmm, come to think of it… still, too bad, no tickets. This book gets a generous three-oogie rating.