I think I may have pulled a muscle. In my throat. See, I was reading the book late at night, and something got particularly funny - so funny that under usual circumstances I would have been howling with laughter, only it was after midnight, and people were sleeping, so I settled for clutching my abdomen and wheezing in a rather animated manner.
Such is the magic of Katie MacAlister's romance novel, The Corset Diaries, which had me from the time I read the cover. The front of the cover, which says "He was so handsome she could barely breathe. Or maybe it was just the corset ...." That the back provided an excellent premise was a bonus. Turns out that our heroine has been roped into flying to England to spend one month pretending to be a duchess during the Victorian era for a reality television show, filling in at the last minute for a woman named Cynthia who backed out of the role for reasons we don't learn until roughly 3/4 of the way through the book. Our heroine is a tall, plump 39-year old widow who gets paired with a taller, completely hot 34-year old divorced Englishman. I'd say that sparks immediately fly, but in fact, it is chunks that immediately fly when Tessa throws up on Max's shoes as they are introduced. And all I can say about her second meeting with Max is that she is very lucky there weren't any sparks in the vicinity, since she'd had beans on toast for breakfast, then been laced into a very tight corset, then bent over to pet the dog. If you think I'm implying that she, um, dealt it, then you are correct. (Fortunately, I read that scene the other night and at an early enough time that stealth laughter was not required. I guffawed for at least a full minute and had to wipe tears from my face afterward.)
The humor in this book was a complete gift, and I'm extremely glad I found and read it. I have a few quibbles with it, mind - there are at least two passages where Max and/or Tessa engages in rather detailed discussion of what they'd like to do (or have done) sexually that I found strained my credulity (really, I don't think that people go on like that under the particular circumstances in which they engage), and I'm still not entirely certain why the characters fell in love, really (Tessa believes in love at first sight, and Max seems put out at having fallen for her - perhaps it's her charming American ways?), but if one is in the mood for a light, humorous romance, this is your book.
I will be looking for other books by Katie MacAllister, who appears to specialize in contemporary romances that combine various role-playing sorts of scenarios. (E.g., Hard Day's Knight takes place at a Renaissance Faire, and Men in Kilts at a mystery conference.) I am looking forward to reading more of her stuff. You know, as soon as my throat muscles feel up to it.