"Two romances make this book doubly delightful."
Reviewed by Jessica Smith
Posted January 15, 2006
Just as Rita Frazer is about to make her costume design
debut, her wayward and unreliable sister, Jayne, abandons
her to elope -- of all things! Working together on a cruse
ship to support their mother, Rita and Jayne have very
different lives. As the ship's seamstress, Rita finds
herself in the shadows, making sure the showgirls look
their best. And Jayne, as the best dancer in the group, is
always in the spotlight, the only girl with a solo.
Although it looks like Jayne's solo might go un-danced
tonight, seeing as how she's eloped with her scumbag
Rita has watched every practice, attended every lesson, and
although she has two left feet, she knows Jayne's number as
well as Jayne does, and tonight she'll have to swallow her
fear and dance in order to save her sister's job. All Rita
needs is to focus.
Sitting in the front row, Special Agent Harrison Masters is
brooding into his beer, wondering how he's going to find a
lead on his missing ex-girlfriend and the money she stole
from him. He's so consumed, that he's missed most of the
performance, but something about the music makes him look
up, only to find himself the subject of the dancer's
Meanwhile, on the island, Jayne is being forced to
acknowledge that she's been stood up, in the rain, in a see-
through dress. Her no-good fiancÃ© only proposed to get into
her pants, and now that he's a no-show, she's stuck. The
only person she knows is the only man to ever break her
heart. One year ago, he asked her to marry him, and when
she asked for time to think it over, he took it as a "no"
and left. Jayne never expected to lay eyes on him again,
much less have to ask him for help.
Emmett MacNeil thought he could get over Jayne Frazer by
marrying the next woman he met. Never had he been so wrong!
And he certainly doesn't expect to see a soaking wet Jayne
walk through the door on the very day his divorce is final.
But to Emmett this is fate, a chance to win back the woman
he loves, if only she'll let down her guard a little.
When these two couples are drawn together to help expose an
international gambling scam, tempers flair and passions
ignite. Rita and Harrison find that they make a great team
and that they can't keep their hands off each other. And
Jayne and Emmett rekindle their lost love and realize that
it was never really gone. But the challenges of catching
the bad guys, keeping their mother from losing the shirt
off her back and protecting each other from harsh pasts,
may prove to be too much for the budding romances.
THE PLEASURE TRIP is a great read; all the better for
its "two-for-one" romances. I recommend picking up a copy
She may be on a cruise liner, but lately, Rita Frazer's
life looks more like a shabby dinghy. Working as a
seamstress on a ship called the Venus, Rita hasn't been
feeling very goddesslike. More like a Swamp-Thing with red
hair and a mouthful of pins. When the ship hosts a fashion
show, Rita figures she finally has a chance at being a
designer â€” until she finds herself on the runway, instead
of her designs.
But Rita's found her muse. And he's watching the fashion
show. Harrison Masters is capable of making any woman drop
sails, anchor and most of her clothes. And he might be
successful with Rita, but she panics when her sister
disappears. Now Rita's little dinghy â€” which was ready for
an upgrade to full-on Love Boat only moments ago â€” is
starting to leak. Bail water...or bail out?
ExcerptEVEN FOR A WOMAN with two left feet, pounding down eight
flights of stairs in cheap flip-flops didn't present a
challenge when fueled by anger and the desire to give a
well-deserved butt kicking.
Silently fuming, Rita Frazer shoved open the stairwell
door on the basement level of Roman Cruise Lines'
flagship, the Venus, where she and her sister had worked
for over a year. She glanced down at her insubstantial
footwear with blue plastic flowers between the toes. No
doubt about it, her flip-flops were a sorry excuse for
butt-kicking shoes. But where there was a will, desperate
women found a way.
"Jayne!" Rita shouted down the narrow corridor reserved
for the ship's employees, steam hissing from her ears like
the boiler beside her cabin. Everyone but her younger
sister the showgirl was at work this afternoon, prepping
for an influx of passengers after a day docked in St.
Kitts, the second island stop on a ten-day Caribbean
Rita had done the same trip plenty of times as official
seamstress for the Venus. But this wasn't just any cruise,
and Jayne knew it. This particular excursion could be
Rita's big financial break since she'd gone out on a limb
to create new outfits for the show â€” outfits five times as
good as what they'd bought from manufacturers in the past.
She just hoped the cruise management company would agree
and pony up an appropriate payout.
And of course, she hoped Jayne â€” one of the show's
featured performers â€” didn't mess up Rita's big night.
When no answer was forthcoming, Rita stomped her way to
the end of the hall, following the scent of the Chanel No.
5 Jayne preferred even though none of the dancers were
supposed to wear perfume out of deference to the costumes.
The familiar fragrance wafted from the same interior
stateroom from which a warbling rendition of "Stand By
Your Man" currently emanated.
Rita let herself into the compact room they shared in the
bowels of the ship, a room Jayne never bothered to bolt no
matter how many times they discussed the potential dangers
with an ever-changing crew of nine hundred. The drone of
shower water mingled with god-awful singing.
"You are so dead." Rita figured it would be okay to
strangle her sister today since Jayne hadn't bothered to
show for dress rehearsal this afternoon when she knew damn
well this was Rita's one chance to shine in her peon job
as a seamstress.
The singing stopped as Jayne popped her head out of the
shower, all smiles amid a cloud of steam. "Rita? What time
"Past time for rehearsal and Danielle already wants your
head on a platter for not checking in with her. Star
status doesn't buy you exemption from attending show
preliminaries." She torpedoed a towel against the shower
curtain, nailing Jayne in the hip through the white waffle
weave. "Besides that, do you know how many corporate
managers I corralled into seeing the show tonight to see
the new outfits? The boat pulls out in twenty minutes."
"Crap." The reference to the timeline at least got Jayne
moving as she ducked back into the shower spray to
rinse. "I've got to hurry."
Mildly disappointed no butt kicking had been needed, Rita
gave her flip-flops the rest of the day off. She stalked
out of the closet-size bathroom, noting the unholy mess
scattered about their cramped cabin now that she wasn't
focused solely on her beef with Jayne. Clothes were strewn
everywhere, the twin beds both covered in discarded silk
tops, scarves and skinny hot pants.
"I'm not even going to ask what happened in here." Rita
flung her plastic thongs into the closet and reached for a
more forgiving pair of sneakers to wear with her jean
shorts. "I've got too much on my mind to wade through your
"That's okay." The shower curtain rings scraped over the
rod with a metallic ting as Jayne toweled off. "I solved
my own crisis, thank you very much, although God forbid
you give me any credit for it. I know we're all excited
about your foray into costume design, but you forget your
sister is the Queen of Vintage and a fashion force to
reckon with in her own right."
Rita needed to be back at the rehearsal stage to help
dress everyone before show time, but her sister's comment
slowed her reach for the door. "What do you need a great
outfit for anyway? You're going onstage as soon as the
She peered across the wardrobe tornado at Jayne sliding
into a floral sundress in record time.
"Can't a girl dress up for her man?" She winked over her
shoulder, one long red curl plastered to her cheek.
Presenting her back to Rita to zip her up, she smoothed
the hem of her short skirt. "How do I look?"
"Flushed and overexcited." Rita fastened the hook and eye
over the zipper and wondered for the umpteen-millionth
time how Jayne could appear so movie-star gorgeous with
her confident stride and graceful moves while Rita
lumbered through life with as much finesse as a
linebacker. They were sisters, for crying out loud. Same
genes. Same ballet lessons. Same basic looks and size.
Where was the justice? "You're practically bubbling over
for that matter. What gives?"
Jayne shuffled around her makeup table that doubled as a
desk and poked Rita in the arm with a lipstick
case. "Can't I be excited for you? I'm still in shock you
finally talked the management into new outfits for the
opening number. They're normally so stingy about
wardrobe." Uncapping bright fuchsia lipstick, Jayne
smeared it on her sister's mouth in a futile effort to
make Rita look pulled together. "Now all you need to do is
drag me out of show business and you'll be happy, right?"
Rita rolled her eyes and tried to stand still for the
makeup job even though she'd rather not have her face
lacquered while she was working. Didn't Jayne realize they
were going to be late? But some things weren't worth
arguing with her over. Makeup for one. And the fact that
Rita hadn't truly sold the costumes to Roman Cruise Lines
quite yet. Jayne would have had a conniption to think her
big sister â€” by all of eleven months â€” had accepted a work-
for-hire job to force the higher-ups into appreciating
her. But they'd worked the cruise ship for minimum pay
long enough after back-to-back six-month stints. Time to
move on to greener pastures.
"Oh please. As if I'll be able to haul you away from this
business or Horatio the Latin lover any time soon."
Although Rita could always hope. She'd tried before to get
Jayne to consider moving to New York to make the most of
her dance talent, but Rita had never succeeded in
convincing her to leave boy-bimbo Horatio behind.
"You're addicted to all that glitters, remember? I'm just
happy my costumes came together in time for tonight."
Rita had been trying to coax her starry-eyed sibling into
developing interests outside of dancing since high school,
but Jayne had the same stage aspirations as their mother
and no promise of any stable, long-term work had ever
wooed her away. The job on the cruise ship had been
reliable and working on a luxury liner gave the illusion
of being on vacation all the time â€” a welcome fantasy
after they'd done their share of waiting tables in dive
bars while waiting for Jayne's big break.
Showbiz opportunities hadn't been hiding in any of the
trucker hangouts on Interstate 95 north of Fort Lauderdale
where they'd grown up. And Jayne couldn't be convinced to
try Broadway since their mother had a gambling problem
along with a mixed bag of other addictions that kept her
daughters on their toes and perpetually bankrupt unless
they hid their money very carefully. The cruise stint
allowed Jayne to keep tabs on Mom while Rita kept an eye
on her baby sister.
Somehow, it all worked. For now. "I mean it, Ree." Jayne
coated her sister's eyelashes with industrial-strength
mascara. "I think I'm ready to blow this showgirl gig once
and for all. Finally, we're both going to have everything
we dreamed about."
"You really think my outfits are going to be a hit?" Rita
had sewn until her fingers bled to pull together the new
costumes to unveil at tonight's program. She'd paid off
one of the other dancers to model the extra garments
informally around the tables before and after the house
lights went up at the main performance. When the dancers
weren't onstage, they spent plenty of time walking around
the ship in full showgirl regalia to pose for pictures
with the guests, so it wasn't like Missy didn't have
experience preening while she mingled.
"Absolutely." Jayne smeared gloss on her lips and finger
combed her damp hair into waves around her face.
"You're going to knock 'em dead tonight. It's high time
you came out of hiding to show your talents to the world."
The words of sisterly support were as welcome as they were
rare in a relationship marked by old rivalries and very
different perspectives. But deep down, she knew Jayne
wanted her to succeed. Didn't she?
"Thanks." Rita pulled open the door, feet itching to get
back to the stage. She hated it that suspicion held her up
once again. "You're not planning anything unusual for the
show, are you? No special theatrics to highlight my
outfits or impulsive gestures sure to get us fired?"
Flashbacks to their childhood and her sister charging
money from their friends to see her inline skating on a
train rail came to mind. Jayne lighting the neighbor's
garage on fire when she practiced her flaming baton
routine as a teenager. Jayne slipping a note to the star
quarterback in high school, saying that Rita liked him.
And although that last stunt had worked out with rather
exciting results for Rita, she'd officially started her
first ulcer while waiting to find out if A.J. liked her,
too. No way would she tread down Jayne's road of
recklessness again. She'd weathered enough emotional
storms from her sister's revolving-door romances to know
she was better off focusing on work.
"Trust me." Sliding into her high heels, Jayne smiled that
angelic grin that had won her Sweetest Sugar Plum in the
school Christmas pageant three years running.
"You're going to be very happy tonight."
Reassured she'd covered her bases with Jayne, Rita
sidestepped the elevator that only came to the bottom deck
once in a blue moon. With paying passengers finishing up
boarding from their shore excursions, the elevator would
be too jammed to make the trip to the employee-only level
Not until she hit the second flight of stairs did she
remember she'd never pinned down her sister for an
estimated arrival time in wardrobe. No doubt, Jayne
figured she could slide into her spot late since she
didn't go out until the second number. And for the first
time, Rita realized she didn't care if her sister failed
to play by the book.
For just this once, maybe Rita and her two left feet could
enjoy a little of the spotlight for herself.
"TRY BENDING OVER and jiggling." Sweaty and frazzled two
minutes before the curtain went up, Rita waited while the
platinum-blond showgirl decked in buttery-soft blue
leather leaned forward and shook her considerable assets.
Straightening, the jittery young dancer covered in self-
tanning cream and a healthy dose of body glitter looked to
Rita for approval.
No luck, damn it. Rita ran a skilled finger along the
inside of the other woman's bodice and tugged the material
upward. "The twins are still a little uneven, Missy. Do
you want me to take in the costume before you go onstage?"
Sighing, the stressed-out blonde waved away the help as
she dove for a pink duffel bag on the dressing room
table. "My right is bigger than my left. I've got a
silicone lift in my bag to fill out that side a little."
Ignoring the usual pandemonium in the cavernous backstage
of the Aurora 2 Theater, Rita silently critiqued every
costume that streaked by her as dancers and acrobats
scrambled for last-minute makeup fixes and hair touch-ups.
They were three days into the February cruise with two
performances down, but tonight's show marked the first
appearance of the new outfits.
And surprise of all surprises, the costumes looked
fantastic for their debut number. As long as the dancers
did their part tonight and Jayne showed up soon, Rita was
well on her way to getting reimbursed for her hard work
with â€” hopefully â€” a hefty bonus to show for it, too.
"Places, ladies!" Danielle Divine, a former showgirl and
the current Aurora floor-show manager, gave the familiar
nudge to her dancers over the backstage P.A. system. "I
need everyone lined up now."
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