Katie MacAlister, . . Love Spell, $6.99 (369pp) ISBN 978-0-505-52517-8

American Alexandra (Alix) Freemar travels to England to write a romance novel, but she soon discovers romance off the page with her sexy neighbor, Scotland Yard detective Alexander Block. Alix and Alex steam up the pages of this funny yet frustrating tale. Apart from their encounters, readers are also treated to passages from Alix's own work-in-progress, Ravishing Raven. In contrast to the jazzy freshness of Alix and Alex's relationship, purple prose marks Alix's historical romance. While these passages are used to humorous effect at times, it quickly becomes apparent that they reflect not only Alix's poor writing skills, but her skewed perception of love and life. Prone to frequent hysterical crying fits and immature name-calling, Alix is likely to try even the softest heart. Matters come to a head when she receives bad news about her novel and calls Alex to come comfort her. Though sympathetic, he's hot on the trail of a child pornographer and can't rush to her side. She gets mad, he takes it all in stride, and in the end, Alix never really gains any deeper understanding of herself. The novel has its amusing moments—-such as when Alex confiscates Alix's pot plant—but readers aren't likely to embrace MacAlister's (Noble Intentions) self-centered heroine. (Mar. 11)