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Sizzling    by Susan Mallery order for
by Susan Mallery
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

When a spiteful girlfriend publishes an unflattering article centering on Reid Buchanan's not so great bedroom prowess, the retired baseball star's laidback lifestyle is thrown a serious curveball. As more of his one night stands surface seeking their fifteen minutes of tell all fame, he's forced to take drastic measures: move out of his houseboat and go into hiding at his convalescing grandmother's estate.

RN Lori Johnson already has her hands full taking care of Gloria Buchanan, a nasty, sarcastic and recalcitrant patient who's managed to reduce most of her other caregivers to tears with her demands and caustic observations. Lori, however, vows to hang in there; the money she's earning is a godsend now that she's taken over caring for her dying older sister. She's also determined to get to the heart of Gloria's behavioral issues, and soon has the elderly matriarch talking about her family. What Lori learns makes her angry and, unfortunately, the unsuspecting Reid Buchanan walks right into her line of fire.

Reid wants to dismiss the judgmental RN, but something about Lori's constant ridicule and rejection has him re-evaluating his life and his cowardly choice to hide from the media - as well as the numerous disappointments he left in his wake while he was playing pro baseball. He's determined to set things right and make a difference in kids' lives, as well as show Lori that he's not just another shallow womanizing jock. And Lori can't understand why her traitorous hormones roar into overdrive the moment Reid so much as smiles at her. He's so obviously not her ideal of the perfect man. But neither one of them can deny the chemistry that flares to a boiling point every time they're in the same room together.

Mallery charms once again with this third installment featuring the Buchanan's, a family of Seattle-based restaurateurs. In Reid and Lori, the author has taken favored stereotypes and molded them into very appealing leads by creating interesting and believable back stories for both; Lori's is particularly poignant as she deals with not only her dying sister but recovering alcoholic mother. And Gloria all but steals the show as she transforms from nasty to nice. Mallery also includes an engaging sub-plot featuring youngest sister Dani as she begins the search for a restaurant of her own to manage - and seeks the identity of her biological father. Readers who enjoyed Irresistible and Delicious will agree that Sizzling is a spicy and engaging concoction, another great addition to a very enjoyable series.

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