The Perfect Gift
by Christina Skye, paranormal (1999)
Avon, $6.50, ISBN 0-380-80023-3

I have never read any previous books in the Draycott Abbey series by Christina Skye, except for Christmas Knight which I found so-so, but I must say this book has hooked me into looking up previous installments. I'm quite bewildered by some characters in this book, especially the ghosts and the old biddies who seems to be able to predict the future or something, but otherwise, this book is okay.

Maggie Kincade, in the grand tradition of contemporary heroines, is besieged by problems. Her father went missing in a plane crash over South America, and he was implicated in theft of priceless jewels of two countries. Maggie is now facing bankruptcy as a result of her father's financial mishaps, and she doesn't know what to do.

However, before all this happen, she has applied for a position with Nicholas Draycott's company which plans to start some sort of jewel exhibition and craft center. Maggie, you see, is a genius in gem lore and jewel-crafting. Concerned with possible implications should Maggie's father is the thief they all say he is, Nicholas asks his friend Jared Macneill to look up Maggie and do some undercover snooping.

Jared is a former Secret Service sort of agent who is still suffering from psychological scars. He has been framed and kept captive in a box for a year, and now he discovers that he has a newfound ability to read people's emotions. He is instantly attracted to Maggie, and when they try to investigate into her father's accident, they find that what do you know, things may be fishier than they seem!

I love Jared. He is a drop dead sexy hunk with a heart of gold. A protector in nature, he is the perfect bodyguard. Watch him protect and cherish Maggie as if shes the gem of all gems. I'm chilled - that guy is just so hot. There's an unlikely scene involving his zipper and a puppy that is surprisingly sizzling. And then there's this scene where Maggie just can't help drooling over Jared's half-opened jeans... oh dear, I'm sounding totally lascivious, so I'd better stop or I'd be embarrassed beyond repair.

The book has a wonderful hero, but the heroine is depressingly stock material. You know the sort? Humorless, cranky, grumpy. When it is revealed that Maggie has no social life, why am I not surprised? This woman is your typical boring sort - she is too stuck in her inertia to do anything but act gloomy. Her friend Chessa, who is vivid, fun, and cheery, is the one who forces her to get on the plane to meet Nicholas Draycott in the first place. Without Chessa, this story may not have happened at all. Maggie protests at everything Jared says or do and resists all attempts to have any sort of fun until after a while I wonder why Jared is attracted to this sort of woman. Maggie belongs to a category romance, where I'm sure there's a rancher out there waiting for her.

The main plot is rather silly too, I'm afraid. It's some sort of James Bond like plot that ultimately falls flat because Ms Skye makes the villain totally cartoony in nature. It doesn't work - I chuckled when the villain declares that all women would have no say in his future government. Last time I check, villains stopped saying this after 1979.

Well, it's fortunate that The Perfect Gift has a wonderful hero then, or this book would be just another contemporary suspense with an extended-category feel.

Rating: 67

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