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Tuesday, August 01, 2006:
My review: "Cupid, Inc" by Michele Bardsley

Cupid, Inc. (Signet Eclipse)

It's the 21st century and Cupid doesn't go around shooting people with arrows anymore. No, today he is an enlighted god, and with help from his wife Pysche, caters to the various fantasies of those willing to take a chance and explore the sexual side of themselves. Along with Aphrodite, who tends to interfere with her own good intentions, Eros and Pysche have made it their earthly mission to bring people together in love. And if the couples get to live out a fantasy or two, well, that's icing on the cake.

"The Accountant and the Virgin"
Who knew accountants could be so sexy? Certainly not virginal Sara Beaumont, who was in for a surprise when the "sex in the office" fantasy she's been harboring turns in to a reality. In love with her boss Zeth, who doesn't take notice of her, Sara can't stop fantasizing about having sex on an office desk. Deciding to make her fantasy come true and get rid of her virginity, Sara contacts "Cupid, Inc" to make it happen. Only instead of sending her to a man with a similar fantasy, Sara is accidentally sent to the office of Nic Anderson, the new accountant for "Cupid, Inc". Nic is immediately attracted to Sara, and more than willing to make her fantasy come true. But what happens when Sara's boss Zeth is pointed in Sara's direction? Will the magic she feels with Nic pale in comparison to the attention of her boss?

"The Stars in her Eyes"
Vegas wedding planner Janie Brown is trying to keep her business afloat in the wedding capital of the U.S. She doesn't have time to date. But thanks to her well-meaning sister, Janie has won a date with hot movie star Kevan Rune, who has reluctantly agreed to the date as a favor to Eros. Hounded by a sleazy tabloid reporter, Kevan is immensely grateful when a woman in a silver dress comes to his rescue, only to find out it's his date. They have a wonderful time together, and the attraction is instant and intense. But both have been burned before - Janie by a philandering spouse and Kevan by a publicity-hungry girlfriend. Will a stalking tabloid reporter ruin their chance for happiness? Not if love has anything to do with it....

"One Mile Up...A Little to the Left"
Karee Lomen is a journalist for "Love", a magazine for women and all things about, well, love and romance. The thing is, she has had this recurring fantasy about the mile-high club ever since she had a bit of an adventure on a plane as a teenager. Her friend and boss Veronica gives Karee the ticket, er, chance to make that fantasy come true with a little help from Cupid Inc. The only catch is she has to write an article about the experience for the magazine, which she will gladly do for "Love". The night before her pleasure trip, she attends a party for the arts at the Bellagio hotel, and meets a man who sparks her interest, only he disappears before she can get to know him better. It isn't until later that she finds out he's Bret Jernigan, is a fellow journalist for Max-Out, a men's magazine who laughs at all that "Love" stands for. But by now she's already fulfilled her fantasy, with Bret, and is falling for him. Now Karee and Bret have to decide which is more important: their relationship or their careers..... Readers will get a kick out of the antics of Bret's boss Max, who's attention-getting schemes seem to be geared towards getting a reaction out of Karee's boss Veronica. I'm interested in finding out where that may lead....

"The Spy that Rubbed Me"
Helen Manzana is a waitress bored with the repetiveness of her life. She dreams about an adventure from one of her favorite James Bond movies. One day a regular customer leaves Helen a very generous tip, and a gift certificate for a spy fantasy from Cupid, Inc. Days later, Helen's normal day is interrupted when a dishy man in a tuxedo and an English accent begs for her help. And so starts the beginning of Helen's fantasy.... Paul Aris is a reformed thief and current do-gooder determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But even he can't refuse his mother when she asks him to steal a valuable item from the Troy Casino - all in the name of love and adventure. Determined to make his mother happy, he plays along with the spy fantasy, and in the process meets a woman who gets his blood pumping just by being in the same room.

"Cupid, Inc" is about fantasies, but ultimately the journey is about love, and matching two people who belong together. I like the whole mythology premise, and the way Michele Bardsley has set it up for the possibility of future stories. I hope she's planning a follow-up book - I think there are a lot of fantasies left to be fulfilled. This collection of stories was quick and delightful - perfect for a lazy afternoon to ward off the winter chill and warm your heart.

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