From the back cover:
THE LIFE OF RILEY by Cara Summers
He's working on a case of puppy love...
Cop Jack DeRosa's life is going to the dogs. After being out on sick leave, the only way he's getting his beat back is to strike gold on his latest case. The assignment--to investigate pet caretaker and probable thief Riley Foster. Undercover, Jack manages to deal with rambunctious mutts, clinging kittens and opinionated birds. But one look from his sassy suspect and Jack knows he's in over his head...
NAKED IN NEW ENGLAND by Jacquie D'Alessandro
Going back to nature...
Ryan Monroe is finished with women! After giving his latest girlfriend, Ms. You-mean-I-can't-sleep-around?, her walking papers, he heads off to the mountains for a little R & R. The last thing he expects to find in his friend's backwoods cabin is a woman--especially one in her birthday suit! But when a storm leaves them stranded, what else can Ryan do but convince his bathing beauty that it's more fun to be naked in New England--together!
And my review:
I'd never read anything from the Harlequin Duets line before I tried this book, so maybe I expected these stories to be funnier than they were. After all, they are labelled romantic comedies.
THE LIFE OF RILEY was fairly well written, but I didn't find it very funny. In fact, in her attempt to be funny, the author came across as silly. I felt that the main plot-line of the book (about the robberies) was too heavy for a comedy. There were just too many contrived situations for me to stomach, and I gave up halfway through. Two stars.
NAKED IN NEW ENGLAND was the reason I bought this book, though. I've already read three books by D'Alessandro, and they've all been keepers, five-star reads. This is an author who can do humor with a light hand, has delightful running jokes throughout her books (if you've read her work, you'll understand what I mean) and has wonderful, human characters that jump straight into your heart and stay there.
So why the low rating? The romance had nothing going for it but sex! Usually, D'Alessandro is able to handle the sexual tension beautifully, but not here. I felt like I was being sledgehammered with the instant lust between these two. There was just nothing else between them but the siren call of their libidos. And I need more than that to cheer a couple on. Sex is not enough.
Maybe this smaller format made the difference, as I'd only read full-length novels (at least 400 pages) from her before. I sure don't like when a romance novel ends with a "We'll need four-dozen condoms" comment from the hero. Yuck! Seriously, that's the last line of the story. Okay, they've decided to get married, but still. I like the last line of a romance to give me the "warm fuzzies" and that just doesn't do it.
If you want really good writing by D'Alessandro, I highly recommend THE BRIDE THIEF and WHO WILL TAKE THIS MAN? Those books were fabulous. But as for this collection, I'd skip it.