Itís New Years Eve 1999 and Tess OíMara is up to her elbows in the chaos involved in planning and running a big fancy cruise ship bash. Itís been a year in the making, and Tess is both proud and happy to be moving onto another assignment. She is especially excited when her boss informs her that she can expect a large bonus in her bank account for a job well done.
Tess is happy to wake up the morning after keeping the party together to find that the world hasnít disappeared. Still in the throes of lingering Y2K paranoia, and also in need of money, she heads to the ATM to take out some money, only to find that her account mysteriously has a bit of extra money. One million dollars to be exact. It flitters through her mind that this could be a Y2K glitch of sorts, but she also remembers that she was expecting a large bonus. She chooses to believe the money is legitimately hers and runs off on a shopping spree involving a crazy new hair-do, new clothes, a cappuccino machine and a powder blue Mercedes that called out to her from across the street.
When she returns home with her $65,000 worth of impulse purchases, Tess has more pangs of doubt that all that money could actually be hers, so she calls her older brother Andrew who is employed by the Treasury Department. He does a bit of digging and gets just spooked enough about some recent illegal goings-on that he orders Tess out of her hometown of Boston. He demands that she head to a small town called Almost, Arizona where a friend of his works as the Sheriff. He knows that Sheriff T.J. McCall can keep Tess safe while he gets to the bottom of the mysterious money.
After Tess makes the long drive from Boston to Almost, the book takes a sharp and unexpected turn. Once out her element, the usually grounded Tess starts to have strange episodes where she dreams, in vivid detail, elements of Almostís. These episodes send her reluctant baby-sitter T.J. (who just happens to be a dead ringer for Mel Gibson) into a tailspin trying to keep track of this flaky city woman. And even worse, the more time they spend together, the more he becomes invested in her making it out the other end of this experience in one piece. But, can he let himself fall for this woman who will most certainly flee from Almost at the end of her ordeal? Heís been left by a city woman who craved more excitement once before. Can he live through that again?
2000 Kisses turned out to be quite different than I had expected. I picked it up randomly in the bookstore when I was looking for some good seasonally appropriate books and from the back assumed it was going to be a straightforward, standard contemporary romance with some mystery involving the money thrown in for variety. The reincarnation story line involving Tess and her warrior lover was completely unexpected and actually quite pleasant. Iím not a big fan of historical or fantasy based story lines, but this one was not only interesting, but also effective and believable.
The love story between T.J. and Tess was also particularly compelling. Not only did I really see the affection and attraction growing between them, but also the problems they encountered along the way, both internal and external, didnít seem contrived in the least as they often do in romances. Tess and T.J.ís inner demons are completely understandable given their circumstances and they donít just magically go away at a convenient point in the plot. Both characters actually work through issues before the end, which is not only refreshing, but also a sure sign of a well-written and well-plotted novel.
I know this is a bit late to be completely time appropriate, but I do highly recommend this book. It is suspenseful, hot and absolutely delightful and spans enough territory that fans of any sub-genre should enjoy it.
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