Christie Ridgway, . . Avon, $5.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-380-81896-9

Set in the imaginary town of Hot Water, Calif., Ridgway's newest contemporary romance (after First Comes Love) puts a sexy spin on an old romance cliché—the marriage of convenience. Near strangers Honor Witherspoon and hunky computer genius Bram Bennett are temporarily forced into marriage by Honor's millionaire father. The justifications for this preposterous act are murky at best, but the result is crystal clear: instant attraction. Despite the sexuality that simmers between the pair, they hold back for much of the story. Bram is still grieving the death of his young wife, Alicia, tragically murdered eight years earlier, and the innately gregarious Honor is still suffering post-traumatic stress from a terrifying kidnapping. Even after they succumb to temptation, both resist giving their hearts to each other. Ridgway's warm, energetic voice masks plot and characterization points as flimsy as Honor's red negligee. Comic subplots—such as an alien sighting by a local man (an event that overruns the tiny town with loony thrill-seekers hoping for another close encounter)—also serve to pad the story and will remind readers that this is a world of fantasy, after all. (Jan.)