Naturally Naughty
by Leslie Kelly, contemporary category (2002)
Harlequin Blaze, $4.50, ISBN 0-373-79066-X

Okay, so you got dumped on Prom's Night. You found out soon after that your mother was having an affair with the town rich guy she is a maid to, and worse, your mommy most stupid was returning the man's paychecks and letting you starve because mommy luvved her sugar daddy and sugar daddy needed the money to buy more important stuff for his family. You got angry, you left town, and you plot revenge even as you become successful in the one job the Harlequin Blaze folks would like you to believe is the sexiest job ever - lingerie designing.

So now you're back, from outer space (okay, glam NYC, but that may as well be outer space where small towns are concerned) and you want revenge. What do you do? Buy out everybody's lands from under them, kick them to the curb, and laugh as you watch their houses get demolished to make way for your grand Brothel Land project? Make use of your IRA training, a well-placed hockey putt, and a few vials of poison?

No, you use your venture capitalists' money and open a sex toy store in that very conservative small town that made you and your mommy's life hell for being 'white trash'.

Hey, it serves a more humanitarian purpose. After all, we all know that small-town right-wing bigoted types are actually free-spirited kinks begging to take it up everywhere: they are just waiting for someone to open up a store where they can then buy happy vibrating thingies. The next time you stare at Dubya on the TV screen trying to enunciate a particularly long word, just think - he may have a dildo shoved up his ass at that very moment, that kinky perv, ooh.

So meet our mastermind, the fiendishly diabolical Kate Jones.

She, apart from spreading the Dildo Doctrine on eager acolytes all across the Mason-Dixon visible panty line that delineates the Fair and Pure American Values region on the map of America, also wants to seduce the son of the man who kept her momma and break his heart the way the daddy broke momma's heart... or something.

It doesn't matter. Because I have to pinch myself when the heroine takes up her Jolly Shandy Buddy and puts it to good use when there's no Mr Right to make her happy in bed. Am I dreaming when she and our hero John "Jack" Winfield Jr - the very son she wants to boink, only she doesn't know he's the man she is looking for when she boinks him - have a nice one-night-stand? Those people screeching "Easy slut!" at Kate, get lost and go home to your Harlequin America before I take the Giant Vibrator of Doom and stick it up your nostrils. Shoo!

Where was I? I like this take-charge-of-my-sexuality heroine. I like the hero, who's a hapless and idealistic dude despite his obligatory old money trappings.

But I'm not too fond of the increasingly ridiculous soap opera feel of the story or the way Kate's mother's stupidity is passed off as true love and hence okay (I think it's not okay), but most of all, I think the entire revenge plot is stupid, ridiculous, and unworkable. The lengths some heroines will go through just to play with toys and have sex - I never cease to be amazed.

Still, not bad. Now if only the nice hero and heroine be allowed to shag in peace, this book will be so much better. Leave the bad All My Children subplots at home, please.

Rating: 80

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