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Friday, September 25, 2009

2000 Kisses by Christina Skye

2000 Kisses by Christina Skye
Publisher: Random House (Island Books)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full (374 pages)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A year 2000 computer glitch got her $1 million and a cowboy-and the wildest adventure of her life . . .

P.R. whiz Tess O'Mara is burned out. She's looking for a change. Something wild and crazy. The year 2000 has arrived. And that's when the trouble begins. A computer glitch has deposited one million dollars into her bank account. Problem is, it's somebody else's money, somebody who's willing to kill to find it-and Tess has already spent a big chunk of it on a new wardrobe and a powder-blue Mercedes convertible. Suddenly Tess is running for her life, as fast and as far as she can go . . .

. . . until she reaches the sleepy desert town of Almost, Arizona. Sheriff Jake McCall, a dead ringer for Mel Gibson, is there to catch her as she careens into town and collapses from heatstroke in his arms. Jake's prepared for anything-except the spoiled city slicker with trouble in her wake. The last thing he expects is to fall for her. But as danger tracks Tess to her door, something unexpected happens that will transform two very different people, and one dusty, dead-end town, forever . . .

2000 Kisses is a book that has re-readability even though the new millennium has come and gone – romance lives forever. This story has the best of everything.

Tess’s character is a whirlwind of controlled chaos and is prone to rushing at challenges head-on. She’s spunky, funny, and has a heart of gold – when she has time to remember. Everyone wonders what they’d do if they ever hit the lottery. Tess gets to find out. Even though she questions it, the euphoria of being able to “DO” instead of dream would tip the scales in anyone’s rational judgment and she’s no exception.

When she does stop, she reaches out to her brother. And his advice sends her on a life changing and saving journey. She’s almost like a Polly Anna, with attitude. She doesn’t just make people around her happy, she makes it work for them. And her biggest challenge is the book’s hero. No, wait, making meatloaf is. You’ll see when you read that part. But yes, Tessa is more than a match for Sheriff McCall.

T.J. is a man with a past who refuses to acknowledge its continued power over him. However, not everyone will let him close himself off and he has to face that fact. He’s got it good, down there in Almost, but a man like him needs more than work, more than a badge. He needs someone by his side. Not that he’ll admit to that and I very much enjoy reading about a man who has to come to grips with a woman who gets under his skin. I enjoyed reading how his restraint was sort of painful, if you know what I mean. I loved how being honorable was a slow and sensual torture while he fought his attraction to Tess. I would definitely swoon over a man that a woman can count on. You know, when he uses his brains and brawn and a few good shots from his trusty weapon. He’s got a few good quips to share too which made me chuckle. The scene where his badge gets stuck is pretty darned funny. What is even funnier is the town folk’s interpretation of said scene. When T.J. finally succumbs it’s passionate and alpha and he’s still being stubborn. That is my favorite kind of hero – the kind that is so slow to admit to love; it means it’s the real deal because when he finally does? He embraces it from the follicles on his sexy head all the way to his manly big toe. And the fact that he’s a professional protector? Is icing on my cake.

Secondary characters provide flavor and humor. There is one, Miguel, which the author uses to give a reader a hint of something “other”. It never truly materializes but this reader got a sense of a mystical component that made me wonder and want to know more. It’s a technique this author has used before and sometimes I’m not sure if I like the tease. It’s that sense of ‘maybe’ that keeps you hooked though. I guess she leaves it up to the reader to decide. I want Miguel to be special, so that makes him so.

As for the conflict and villains, they are on the peripheral. They do show up but they are not the focus, just the vehicle which brings the hero and heroine together. When action happens it happens fast and it takes you by surprise. It’s that culmination of threads, bringing it all to critical mass with tight and vivid writing that makes this all work. The fear, the determination and the bravery all make for a great climatic ending.

As for the happily ever after, it’s a perfect wrap-up. Sure T.J and Tess get together but it’s the epilogue that had me closing the book with a smile. There is no ‘almost’ about it. 2000 Kisses is a romance that delivers what we all look for and it does it in style. This book is on my keeper shelf and will remain there.