Midnight Fantasies by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Stephanie Bond, Kimberley Raye
Originally published in print in 2002 (Harlequin Blaze); now available in ebook (2009)
Three contemporary novellas.
Mystery Lover by Vicki Lewis Thompson
BJ has been in love with Jonas her whole life, but he treats her like a sister — after all, they grew up together on the Arizona ranch where her dad was head wrangler for his father. BJ works on the ranch, knows how to fix engines, can ride and rope and wrangle; she doesn’t think she can compete with all the sexy women Jonas is used to. And Jonas is now the local Casanova; every woman in town wants him, and he’s let most of them catch him temporarily. But then BJ takes shelter in a dark cave when she’s out riding during a storm, and Jonas ends up doing the same. He can’t see her face, doesn’t know who she is. BJ recognizes the perfect opportunity to be someone else, someone Jonas would be attracted to. And she can keep her secret identity and continue the game while she’s housesitting for a friend — if their fantasy includes blindfolds along with the body oil, feathers and fantastic sex.
The anticipation and build-up of sexual tension are excellent and the sex is hot, hot, hot. Jonas’s discovery of her true identity is fun and well-handled, and the misunderstanding between them doesn’t last long.
After Hours by Stephanie Bond
Rebecca designs wild, fantastic, imaginative costumes for parties and theaters. She often wears some of her more sedate costumes while waiting on customers in her shop. Since her fiancee recently ran off with another woman, she likes to spend her evenings dressing up in the sexier costumes and fantasizing about one of her customers. She does this in private, of course, after the shop is closed — until Michael, the object of her fantasies, unexpectedly stops by after hours to discuss ideas for dressing up the waiters at his restaurant. Is this bustier-and-stocking clad vampiress the same woman he’d seen that morning wearing a nun’s habit? Hmm, playing dress-up can be fun even when you are not a little kid. He’s willing to be Zorro to her Spanish lady if it ends up with them naked on the couch…or in her bed…or on the counter…
Show and Tell by Kimberly Raye
Laney and Dallas were both from very poor, dysfunctional families. But when Laney was six she was adopted by a wealthy couple from the oldest and most respected family in town. She has spent the 20+ years since then trying to make herself into the perfect Merriweather, trying to be the daughter her parents can be proud of. She became a lawyer like her father, dresses in upper class elegance and wears the same hairdo as her late mother. And she tried to ignore her lifelong attraction to Dallas, who was the bad boy and troublemaker all through school. But now Dallas is successfully running his own construction company, trying to live down his youthful reputation, trying to forget that he was never good enough for Laney Merriweather. After not seeing one another for all these years, they meet at a naughty lingerie party and realize the attraction is still there. But they are both caught in the public images they feel they have to project in order to be accepted by the rest of the world.
Although not a bad story, this was my least favorite of the three. There are touching flashbacks to Laney and Dallas’ childhoods, but the characters just didn’t grab me — ten years after high school, they are still acting and thinking like teenagers. And although both hero and heroine have built successful professional careers, they seem to have done nothing else with their lives; I didn’t find it realistic or romantic that apparently all they’d done for ten years was think about each other and replay childhood in their heads. Dallas was a really nice guy and Laney was sweet and a loving daughter, but I never felt connected to or all that interested in them as people.