Touching Lace
by Anne Rainey, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-903-4

Lacey Jean Vaughn's latest relationship lasted only six months or so. If you must know, she caught her friend Christy in the shower washing Evan's private parts. Obviously she's no longer a good friend to Christy. When the story begins, we have poor Lacey wondering what those other women out there have that she doesn't because she can't seem to sustain a lasting relationship with a guy. Luckily for all, her good friend, sweet and sensitive Nick Stone shows up offering a shoulder to cry on. In truth, he's always been in love with her.

Oh, I know what you are thinking. We have a woman feeling blue due to her break-up with a boyfriend who cheated on her with her friend, so here's an opportunistic fellow hoping to sneak into Lacey's pants while she's feeling vulnerable. He gets her to believe that she is a dud in bed so that he can suggest they embark on a sexual relationship in order for him to "teach" her how to un-dud herself in bed. What a sleaze, you must be thinking. You must be also wondering why the casting people behind The Bachelor hasn't snapped this fellow up yet for an upcoming season since he is exactly the type of sleazy jerk they always look for in that show.

But ah, let me reassure you that the whole thing between those two isn't that sleazy because Nick loves Lacey and therefore... uh, yeah, they are in love. So there! Ms Rainey tries very hard to convince me that those two have something that goes deeper than a woman needing a rebound affair to convince herself that she still has it, but the length of the novella makes it hard for me to buy this rather rushed falling in love arc. Still, I give Ms Rainey plenty of credit for portraying Lacey as a normal gal who doesn't have contrived neurotic sexual issues. Instead, Lacey comes off like a pretty level-headed woman who is understandably plagued by self-doubts in the aftermath of one too many failed relationships.

Touching Lace is a pretty standard friends-with-benefits story that doesn't break new ground or offer anything that deviates from the script. Still, Lacey and Nick come off like normal characters instead of cardboard figures so that's a big plus for this otherwise formulaic story. File this one under "pleasantly readable, but unmemorable".

Rating: 75

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