Brava, $14.00, ISBN 0-7582-0772-7
Contemporary Erotica, 2004
The stories within Perfect for the Beach are so short that they don’t stick to the mind. It’s obvious that they aren’t meant to be anything more than easy money for the authors and fluffy beach reads for the readers. Heck, these stories are set on beaches. Because these stories are short and forgettable, they don’t annoy or irritate. Conversely, they don’t impress much either.
In Lori Foster’s Some Like It Hot, Dr Cary Rupert always wanted to show his mighty syringes to nurse Nora Chilton. When he realizes why she won’t want to let him check her blood pressure – no, his name has nothing to do with it – he decides to show her that he can be the man ready for commitment. Nora’s deliberately frumpy clothes are no match for Cary’s assault on her senses. Chalk this one up to another interchangeable cut-and-paste story from this author. When is her next full-length book coming out? Hopefully I’ll get something to remind me why I have enjoyed this author’s works in the past. It seems like a very long time ago, this “past”. Oh well.
One Wilde Weekend sees Janelle Denison sending one of the Wilde brothers, Alex, to a beach with his girlfriend Dana. Dana isn’t sure about Alex’s ability to commit himself to a relationship and he’s determined to prove her wrong. Short, fluffy, forgettable, but hey, there’re sex and some romantic alpha male moments. Great sex leading to a ring on one’s finger can’t be too bad a thing, surely?
Erin McCarthy’s Blue Crush has Dr Sara Davis, another one of those annoying frigid and neurotic female scientists that share the space with frigid librarians on the shelves labelled “Stereotypes that must die”, saved from drowning by hunky lifeguard Kyle Vanderhoff during a hurricane. Her bikini top falls off in the process and I wait in vain for the giant eel from a particularly bad episode of Baywatch to show up. Still, this is one silly novella that won’t have it any other way. It has sex, absurd heroine antics, and a hero’s name that… well, let’s just say Dave Hasselhoff is already taken so Kyle Vanderhoff will have to do. What’s next?
MaryJanice Davidson’s My Thief is the best of the lot. Robin Filkins grabs an accountant John Crusher to avoid hotel security who have interrupted her in a thievery session (don’t ask, let’s just say she wants to get back something that belongs to her). One thing leads to another in the hotel room. While this one is not as steamy as the others, it has fun characters and a heroine who doesn’t grate on my nerves by whining about commitment or how nobody loves her. This is like the missing novella from the author’s Under Cover anthology.
Kayla Perrin’s Hot and Bothered has Trey Arnold pursuing his wife Jenna all the way to a beach in Florida, trying to get her to change her mind about divorce because he loves her, blah blah blah. It is so easy on his part – all he has to do is to wag that thing, and I’m surprised why he doesn’t wag it more often. Or sooner. To be honest, I don’t care much about this silly story of much ado about nothing. Authors really shouldn’t try to do reunion stories in a short story format because the lack of space means that the characters come off as dolts of the first degree. Trey and Jenna’s faces, say hi to the eggs.
Finally, Morgan Leigh closes the anthology with Murphy’s Law. Kat Murphy has a crush on her boss Sam Parrish for years. Sam is a widower nursing a heartbreak however and it seems that he will never let anyone into his heart again. Finally, Kat can’t take it anymore and quits. She then goes to a beach for a vacation and Sam follows her there. Predictable “Ohmigosh, she’s a babe underneath those dowdy clothes!” antics ensue. If only Kat had a wardrobe malfunction at work years ago, she would’ve gotten her man. Then again, I don’t think Kat is ever that imaginative, judging from her antics here.
If one doesn’t ask for too much in terms of storyline, characterization, or well-developed romance and there are no hot guys to check out on the beach, one can do a lot worse than Perfect for the Beach. Of course, one can do better with the full-length works of these authors. Still, there’s something to be said for short works one can read and then forget in the short time between checking out a hot guy on the beach and then sighing when one turns to look at the flabby arms and saggy belly of the boyfriend or hubby, right before reopening the book again.