My Mission: Kiss & Makeup by Alison Kent
Harlequin Connection: #197 in Harlequin Blaze line
Publication Date: August 2005
How Long It's Been In My TBR: Just under a year. I won this in a contest over at the Oxygen Network.
Plot: Shandi Fossey left behind Nowhereville, Oklahoma for the bright lights of Manhattan. By day she attends the Fashion Institute of Technology and dreams of making it big as a make-up artist. Her nights are spent tending bar at the exclusive Hush hotel, the sort of place that provides sex toys in the rooms (le sigh). It's on the job that she meets hunky music producer Quentin Marks. He's in town for meetings, with immediate plans to set up his own studio in his hometown of Austin, Texas. He's burnt out on the high life and just wants to feel normal again. Then he meets sexy Shandi and he wonders why he's in such a hurry to leave New York.
My Verdict: There were parts of this story I really liked. Shandi and Quentin are both nice people, driven to succeed. I especially liked how Shandi was determined to make her dreams come true and defy her family, who thought she was due to return to Oklahoma at any minute to lick her wounds. I also liked the chemistry these two had and the sex scenes were very well done. Seriously, after slogging through some mind-numbing stuff thanks to the recent erotica boom, the encounters these two have come off as sexy and fresh.
That said, there were times that I felt I was already too old to read this book. It's the kind of story I probably would have loved when I was in my early 20s. The secondary romance is mainly to blame here. The spoiled little rich girl who won't stand up to her old money family even though she's madly in love with Shandi's roommate. A couple of times I wanted to smack these two and just tell them to "Grow Up Already!" That said, they do behave like your typical 20-somethings, still in college, so-in-lurve couple - so I can hardly find fault with that.
I also wasn't entirely wild about the ending. Without giving too much away, I would have loved to have seen Kent pull a little role reversal with the happily-ever-after. She could have done it with this story, and well - let's just say I thought it was an opportunity missed.
Completely Unrelated To Anything: I really dig this cover.
Final Grade = B-. At times I found this book uneven, but the parts I liked, I really liked. And have I mentioned the sex scenes were really good? Hot without being sleazy. Not that there's anything wrong with sleazy....