In Bed With The Wild One
by Julie Kistler, contemporary (2000)
Harlequin Duets, $5.99, ISBN 0-373-44096-0

In Bed With The Pirate
by Colleen Collins, contemporary (2000)
Harlequin Duets, $5.99, ISBN 0-373-44096-0

Both In Bed stories take place in a bed-and-breakfast in San Francisco. The good ladies in the stories sleep in one room and end up getting debauched silly by men they shouldn't know, much less marry, so mommas may want to note down the address to protect their innocent daughters (or to seek some spice in their marriages, whichever priority ranks higher).

The stories itself is a bit of a ho-hum affair. Good gals letting their hair down or exploding cars in the case of In Bed With The Pirate can be fun, but not when they change from Predictable Freda the Frigid to Predictable Hilda the Hussy.

In Bed With The Wild One sees boring Emily Chaplin decides to spice up her life by stalking a man she deems a criminal. Honey, loosening up refers to the buttons of your dress, not the screws in your brain. Anyway, she follows the man Tyler O'Toole to the B&B above where she checks into the Pollyanna room. There she ropes Tyler into bodyguarding her (ahem) while she wrecks mayhem in seedy bars and solves crime. Then, happy that she got her man, she runs back to her safe lil' world for more B&B with Tyler.

Thing is, Emily and Tyler are predictable. The humor is awkward, the banters are often than not in the vein of "Hero Teases, Heroine Flusters, Ha Ha (Not)" type, and the whole story ends up nothing more than a predictable, okay, but unmemorable read. At least it's short.

And Emily gets more irritating as she gets more and more loosened-up. She veers from extremes - Closet Lesbian material to Bubblegum Ditz in a matter of pages. Yeah, she maybe loosened the wrong things in her quest for orgasms with a thuggish dude.

In Bed With The Pirate is funnier, and the characters are meatier than Ms Collins' previous stories. The owner of the B&B gets a visit from her neighbor, the latter wearing only red underwear. Tight red underwear. With a stalk of rose stuck in the waistband right along the line of... uhm, okay, so there's no rose. Hey, this is a family novel we're talking about.

Toby Mancini just caught his girlfriend playing patty cakes with someone else in his house, after he has obligingly stripped to his skivvies for Kate's and my ogling pleasures. I have no complains with such exhibitionism, no indeed, so I'm not complaining. Anyway, Kate treats him like a pirate and makes him her piratey fantasy come true. Toby, actually a normal down-to-earth guy, starts developing a fetish for tight leather pants. But before they could get down to their private Skid Row performance, here comes Kate's momma with her midlife crisis...

The problem with In Bed With The Pirate is minor - the heroine is always either too uptight or too bubbleheaded. But hey, as long as Toby prance around in those skimpy tight duds, I'm not complaining. The repartee are fun, for Ms Collins gets the plot and never make the heroine the target of the fun banters. Unlike many authors who seem to think that heroines ending up tongue-tied and flabbergasted are funny (they aren't, not after the gazillionth time), Kate gives back as good as she gets.

In Bed With The Wild One gets a 58, In Bed With The Pirate gets an 81.

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