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I’m still catching up on reviews, after a few weeks of much reading and not much writing, so three for the click of one today. All were cheap purchases for inflight reading, from my local used book store. None were great, but all helped make flying easier.

prestonSatan’s Angel, by Fayrene Preston, is from 1991, and was published under the Bantam books Loveswept imprint. Nicholas Santini, who goes by Satan, runs a small airplane company. Two of his pilots recently died in separate crashes, testing a new plane, and his confidence is shaken. He’s driving back from the funeral of one when he takes a wrong turn, then crashes his Ferrari in remote Paradise, Oregon. Disoriented, he’s rescued by a woman called Angel, and she brings him to her house to recover.

Angel is an orphan, who lives a quiet life fixing appliances and doing home repairs. She also takes in stray dogs, gives good advice to acquaintances, and, thanks to her name, has a large collection of Angel figures given to her as gifts. When the injured man called Satan kisses her to find out if she is real, passion is awakened.

Yes, as is typical in older books, she’s a virgin. And her appearance, angelic nature, and caring is uber feminine. On the other hand, she’s independent, lacks nothing, and is equally comfortable re-roofing a house, fixing a toaster, and patching up an old car. The story starts with her rescuing him, and when things get heated, in the first of a couple of steamy scenes, she’s not looking for promises.

You’re going to be sorry,” he muttered hoarsely against her lips, grasping the zipper in the back of her dress and sliding it down.

His tongue rasped against hers with a sensual abrasion that made the already smouldering fire within her flare and burn hot. She might be badly hurt, she thought, but she would never be sorry. “No I won’t.

The plot is thickened with a suspense subplot, and the climax involves mutual rescue. The angel angle is somewhere between over-obvious and annoying metaphor, and suggestion of paranormal. Satan’s character is less developed than Angel’s, and there’s no mention of birth control or protection, which is a conspicuous omission in a story of this vintage, but this is a pleasant quick read.

simms1From 1992 we have Not His Wedding, by Suzanne Simms, part of the Reluctant Grooms series, from Silhouette. Ross St. Clair is an engineer by training, and has just finished helping villagers build a well, on a remote South Pacific island. On a stroll to watch a sunset, he overhears people making plans to meet a woman at an airport, and get something from her, which may necessitate harming her.

Diane arrives at the Manila airport, and is surprised to be greeted by a rough and dirty man who seems to have come straight from the jungle. He has. He tells her she is in danger. She ignores him, but he follows her to her hotel, cleans up nicely, and manages to talk to her over dinner. She knows the type of man he is – a drifter, completely unlike her fiance, a stable, sensible man, who has been unable to meet her in Manila as he was called away on business.

Is the fiance bad news?  Is the sky blue? I figured out bad guy and the MacGuffin immediately, and I’m not good with suspense plots. However, the plot functions to bring our characters together, and get them to increasingly isolated and romantic locations. Diane’s a virgin, and she really does say “I never dreamed it could be like this,” but there’s a tiny acknowledgement that first sex may not be great. I’m happy to see that, modest as it is. And condoms are not just used, but actually discussed. A little bit.

The title and some of the packaging seems to be more about the series than the story. Ross is not a particularly reluctant groom. He’s not a fan of marriage, but that has a lot to do with his tremendous wealth, which is not revealed until late in the story. Not a spoiler since it’s part of the blurb, and since her wealth is established from the start, this not a case of opposites coming together. The story is essentially rich man rescues rich damsel in distress, and as you know, I’m not that sympathetic to the romantic problems of the wealthy. A few scenes reminded me of the film Romancing the Stone, but neither the characters nor the plot drew me in.

simms2Also from Suzanne Simms is 1994’s The Brainy Beauty. I know, why did I buy something with such an offensive title? I suspect it’s because I pay very little attention to them.

Samantha is a university professor. She has an opportunity to catalog a collection of Egyptian artifacts recently obtained by an eccentric billionaire, but she’ll have to stay at his estate. A narrative leap, but there’s lots of cool tidbits of Egyptian lore. Samantha’s been saddled with a bodyguard, courtesy of a worried uncle, and the explanation for his presence is that he’s a boyfriend.

They get separate but adjoining rooms. There are other characters at the house, and again I was reminded of a film, this time Clue, with elements of bedroom farce (and the estate housekeeper is Mrs. Danvers, with the reference discussed by the characters). Most sexual aspects of the story are very similar to Not His Wedding, right down to the discussion of condoms and some of the touches, as well as her virginity, and eagerness now that the right man has arrived.

However, compared to Not His Wedding, there is more sexual tension, more humour,  more complex characterization, and a more complex suspense plot. Samantha is the stereotypical nerd undergoing sexual awakening (like Hanna in Beautiful Player), and she gets rescued by her bodyguard, but in the course of the story she advances her career, and she takes the lead in defining some aspects of their relationship. Despite the title, overall it was another pleasant quick read.