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by Jayne Castle

      Heroine: tall, plump/voluptuous

     Interior decorator Lacey Holbrook is in trouble, and she's ready to call in an old favor to get out of it.  She fully expected the Merlin family to make good on her request for a "suitable" man to assist her, but was stunned to see the heir to the empire himself standing at the door of her trendy L.A. apartment.  Jed Merlin had changed. No longer the clean-cut young man she worshipped with adolescent eyes, this shaggy denim-clad stranger hardly seems like the CEO of a major corporation, and certainly not the answer to her predicament!

     Jed Merlin rang the bell expecting to help out an old family friend, but the cool, collected woman who answered the door was nothing like the little girl he so fondly recalled proposing marriage to him, citing it as a merger between their two family businesses.   Irritated with the way Lacey is intent on playing Pygmalion and pigeon-holing him into her idea of an urbane male, Jed sets out to show Lacey what a real man is made out of, turning the voluptuous beauty and her ideals on their ear.

      What worked for me:

    I always get a kick out of reading older contemporaries because they are frozen in time.  This story has the heroine sporting an easy-care Dorothy Hamill 'do and a silk jumpsuit, which I recall was all the rage way back when the wardrobe on "Charlie's Angels" was considered the cutting edge of chic fashion. 

     Though her appearance was brief, there is a secondary character, a writer of bodice rippers, who provides some tongue-in-cheek humor about the romance genre in general.  It's nice to see an author who has a sense of humor about her line of work.

     I thought Jed was fairly well-drawn for such a short novel, and I definitely could see myself chatting comfortably with him at a party.

     Size-wise Lacey was heavier than was "in" for L.A. in the late 70s/early 80s, and felt self-conscious about her height around men under 6'.

What didn't work for me:

      I hate to say it, but I really didn't like Lacey.  I couldn't break my initial impression of her as a controlling ice-queen because it took her so long to thaw out.

      The story hinted at Lacey being in danger, but with the exception of one scene the reader never feels it.  "Spellbound" just didn't deliver the suspense it seemed to promise.


   A solid read, but it may be difficult to track down this older title.

Warning, there are some steamy scenes in this story.  

If you liked "Spellbound" you might also enjoy "Love at Large", "Baby at His Convenience", "Midsummer Lightning", "The Independent Bride", "His Seductive Revenge", "The Bridesmaid's Reward", "Carried Away", "More to Love", "Serious Risks", "The Course of True Love", or "His E-mail Order Wife".

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