Pandora's Box

Killing Time

Leslie Kelly
2004, Contemporary Romance
Harlequin, $5.99, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373836155
Part of a series

Grade: N/A
Sensuality: N/A

There is a staff review of this book as well

Killing Time is a romance between former college sweethearts who get a second chance at love. Caroline Lamb comes to Derryvillie, Illinois as assistant producer of a reality TV show, Killing Time in a Small Town. When she arrives for an appointment at the local real estate office, she realizes her past has caught up with her - in a most surprising way. Her college boyfriend Mick, whom she has never really forgotten, is being held at gun point - stark naked.

Caroline is more or less tricked into sharing Mick's home while the show is in production, and in such close quarters it quickly becomes clear that neither has ever really gotten over the other. The tension mounts as they fight their feelings for each other, and they wonder if it's possible to make a relationship between a Hollywood producer and a small town realtor work.

Blythe:   Well, Linda, this month we have Leslie Kelly's Killing Time. It's her first single title for Harlequin, though she's written many category romances. Overall, I found that I enjoyed it. It was flawed in places; I never thought I'd ask for a little less romance and a little more suspense, but that's just what I wanted here. But I enjoyed the characters and the story, and I have to admit, I loved the end. What did you think?

Linda:  What I really liked was the opening scene. "Drop your pants" is a marvelous first line. I was laughing hysterically at the tattoo on the hero's butt and thoroughly enjoyed myself from the start of this book. But, I too, felt that it bogged down a little in the middle with their constant angst alternating with bouts of extreme horniness. I wish that the murder had happened earlier and that there had been more investigation and less sex <g>. But, I too loved the ending.

Blythe:  Yes, that first scene was fun. Not only the "drop your pants" part - but Mick's tattoo. Caroline's discovery of how it had been altered was pretty darn funny. I think the humorous scene kind of clues you in to the type of book this is. We know from the start that it's an 'old lovers meet again' kind of book, but what I liked is that neither of them was really the bad guy. They don't spend half the book nursing old grudges, which was quite a relief to me. That's probably because they are too busy either having sex or thinking about it, and like you I thought they could have thought about it a little less. Though the scenes were hot (and many were well written) at times it got a little old.

Linda:  Yes, the sex scenes were imaginative and well written but the book didn't have quite enough action of a different kind. I also agree that both characters were likable and neither was the bad guy. But I did get tired of their seemingly constant desire for sex, even if it was very hot sex. I liked them more when they were talking and analyzing how they have changed. I really liked Mick a lot - I am such a sucker for bad boys - even though Mick wasn't as bad as the town thought he was.

Blythe:  As soon as Caro mentioned the setting of the reality TV show, the Little Bohemie Inn, I realized that I had met Mick before. This book is connected to some of Kelly's earlier Harlequin Temptations, including one about Mick's cousin Jared - Trick Me, Treat Me. Mick makes a brief appearance in that one, and he's both charming and funny. You might find it worth searching out. Anyway, I liked that Mick wasn't overly bitter about his past relationship with Caroline - he was a little jaded, but he didn't use it as an excuse to be a total jerk. Instead he's more of a community smart-ass. It's a type I can appreciate much more.

Linda:  Well, I have always loved smart-asses <g> and when they are charming and drop dead good looking on top of it - not to mention great in bed, what more can one ask for in a romance hero. I have read some of Kelly's books in the past and will have to search out the one about Jared. I also want to hunt up Sophie's story as I thought she was lots of fun. I really liked a lot about this book and if the suspense had been a little more prominent in the plot it would have been a great read.

Blythe:  Yeah, I really surprised myself by wishing for more suspense, because it is almost always the other way around. But I liked the basic plot about the murder mystery reality TV show, and I would have liked to hear much more about it. We're introduced to some of the contestants on the show, and I thought they were interesting. I was surprised that we didn't get to follow that whole thing more. I admit though that I guessed pretty early on who the fictional Derryville Demon was. I thought he/she was sort of obvious.

Linda:  Well, for once I didn't and then felt like a dummy because I should have figured it out. The secondary romance with the hard-edged Jacey and the fireman was great; I loved the fact that although he is an obvious hero, he was not too macho and really had Jacey's number. I would have liked to have seen more of the show too - especially Ginger and her contestant cohorts. But, these are niggling complaints - the fact that we wanted to see more of these characters says a lot about them. The story was fresh and original and I for one wouldn't mind visiting Derryville again.

Blythe:  I agree. I think it's much better to be thinking "I want more!" than it is to think "Dear God, do I have to read about these people?"

And we've discussed Mick, but we haven't really touched on Caroline. I found her interesting. She's got a high powered job that she loves, and she's good at it. She is also insecure because of her childhood, and her job - and love of television - is something of an antidote to that. She sings TV theme songs when she's stressed, and she loves to watch sitcoms. I think that's very common in real life, but you don't see it too much in romance heroines. And while I don't want to give away the end of the book, I will say that I found it very satisfying. I think other urban dwellers will find it refreshing as well.

Linda:  Yes, it was a nice twist and also made me laugh. I too liked Caro (also loved all the jokes about Caro (Karo) syrup, a staple of my childhood <g>). Wasn't it great how she hummed themes from TV shows, especially on the airplane when one of the passengers started whistling his own favorite? Caro was a complex person: very competent and creative at her job with a polished veneer of makeup and fashion but underneath still suffering from an inferiority complex and fear of abandonment. I think her college rejection of Mick before he could reject her - or at least that's the outcome she feared - is quite typical of someone with Caro's background.

I also wanted to mention the great ear for men's dialogue Kelly has. The men sounded like men, having lived in a male household for the last ten years (after my daughter left home) I know very well what men sound like when they talk to each other. In fact, I am an expert on the conversation of males from 15-28! I also liked the fact that Caro could give as good as she got from Mick and also when he "got her," she laughed at herself and went with the flow: as in the poker game early in the book. I also liked that Mick was a little ashamed of himself after some of his 'jokes'.

Blythe:  They did sound like men, didn't they? I liked that too, even though Mick makes frequent use of one of my least favorite words (c_ck). I think the fact that Caroline and Mick could joke back and forth with each other - even when they were angry, was one of the things that worked well. If they had just toned down the sex a bit and talked more about the TV show and the murder, it would have been even better.

Linda:  Yes, it does seem ironic that we both wanted less romance and more suspense. Which probably goes to show what a tough act Romantic Suspense is to pull off - Kelly comes close and frankly I would rather the author erred on the side of too much romance and not the other way around. I think that's why the Bombshell books we discussed last month fell flat for me. Perhaps it was a case of misperception on my part: because they were from Harlequin and promoted in their romance newsletter I get each month I assumed they were romances with a kick-ass heroine. Wrong! I think others will buy them with that expectation also and like me be dissatisfied. But, that said if there is a couple in a book I want a love story with a happy ending and not just a "well, I'll see you around" at the end of it. I hate having to buy a second book as I have had to do with Justine Davis' Proof to find out how the story comes out! Kelly really delivered on the happily-ever-after and it was totally believable.

Blythe:  Yeah, I'm with you there. I am still smarting over that annoying Davis book that didn't actually end. Even if we did hear a tad too much about Mick's amazing butt (and both characters' lively sex fantasies) at least we knew who these people were and why they had fallen in love. I also liked that they fell in love while they were in college. Lots of people do that, but usually second chance romances feature high school sweethearts. Oh, and let me mention also how thrilled I was to see that Mick lived in a small town, but wasn't the stupid sheriff! He sold real estate, and thank God. I was starting to think "sheriff" was the only small town job available

Linda:  LOL, now that you mention it I can't remember another real estate salesman. It was nice seeing someone with a regular job, although his future BIL was the police chief. I thought the secondary characters were what really made this book so much fun - even Chip and Dale, the deputies, were cute.

Blythe:  Well, it's hard to remember the last time we agreed on pretty much everything about a book. We really saw eye-to-eye on this one. I think that it's well worth reading, even with its flaws. You can always skim the sex scenes if you get tired of them.

Linda:  LOL, I don't think I will ever look at powdered donuts quite the same. It is unusual for us to agree so completely; but I think this book was just lots of fun and hard not to like.

Blythe:  Well, maybe we can have a repeat next month. What are we reading?

Linda:  We are reading The Butler Did It by Kasey Michaels. I am really enjoying Michaels' Maggie series - just got the third book in the series (even bought hardback) and I am hoping I will like The Butler Did It as well as the Maggie books.

Blythe:  You know, I think I've read Michaels, but I can't remember for sure. I am going to have to consult my records. I've heard good things about her older Regencies (I know LLB likes them), and the Maggie series has gotten some good buzz too (I know I haven't read any of those, because I would have remembered.) It looks like The Butler Did It is supposed to be funny suspense; I'm curious to see how that works out.

Linda:  The Maggie books are basically funny suspense and they are terrific. The last one was set in an RT type convention and I am still chuckling over the hair duel of two of the cover models - delicious satire and I do love satire.

Blythe:  Well, here's hoping that this one is just as good. Happy reading!

Linda:  See you next month!

--Blythe Barnhill and Linda Hurst, for

-- Pandora's Box

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