Veronica Rourke is the daughter of a former president. Her father has promised they'll have a "normal" family holiday for once, so when Nicki spots a surveillance RV parked at the edge of their property, she isn't about to let what she thinks is a paparazzi ruin their New Year's Eve. When she sees the guy inside leave, Nicki breaks into the RV and ruins all of his computer equipment, but when he returns while she's still there, she discovers that he's none other than Dylan McTaggert, an ex-Secret Service agent who used to be on her protection detail and whom she had a major crush on as a teenager. He left the agency six years ago, and Nicki has no idea why. But when the Y2K bug strands them in the RV together, they have time to reconnect and a whole lot more.
I'd previously read a couple of other novellas by Donna Kauffman, neither of which did much for me, so the only reason I read "Close Quarters" was for the sake of completing the Yours 2 Keep anthology. As a consequence, I went into reading it with very low expectations. That's probably a good thing, because once again, the story failed to capture my imagination. The plot is a fairly simple one in which the daughter of a former US president is spending the holidays with her father at their private estate. On New Year's Eve, she spots an RV parked on the outskirts of their property. Thinking it's a paparazzi, she goes out near midnight to ruin his photo op by breaking into said RV and ruining his computers, only to discover that he's actually the former Secret Service agent who used to be on her protection detail and whom she had a major crush on throughout her teen years. When the Y2K bug hits, they end up trapped in the RV in the dark. With nothing better to do, they get to know each other on a more personal level, which leads to sex and a cute little twist at the end.
Both Veronica and Dylan were likable enough characters. Although she was something of a hellion as a teenager, always trying to slip her security detail, she seems to have matured somewhat. I say somewhat because the first thing she does when she thinks Dylan is a paparazzi is to vandalize his computer connectors with bubble gum. However, I'll allow that in her day-to-day life, she seems to care about the less fortunate and not only spends most of her time raising money for various charitable causes but also does actual work with real people in need. Dylan left the Secret Service to help out on the family ranch after his father died, only to lose his mother not long after as well and have the bank foreclose on the ranch, so when Nicki's father offers him a private security job, he takes it. While the characters might have been OK, I didn't really sense any chemistry between them. They supposedly have had the hots for one another for years, and yet I just didn't feel it. Once they're locked in together for a few hours, they reconnect and fall into bed quickly, but it was all rather bland. Even the one love scene has very few details.
However, the real reason I didn't care much for the story is that most of the plot points were implausible at best and outright ludicrous at worst. First of all, Veronica is an ex-president's daughter who spends her days throwing top-notch social events and hob-nobbing with wealthy donors, so the idea of her being able to pick locks and especially her knowing how to hack a computer within mere minutes with nothing more than a hobbyist's interest in programming is pretty out there. Then there's the whole idea that Dylan already had the Y2K bug fix installed, but whatever Nicki did to his computers in those few minutes also made it vulnerable to the bug again, along with the fact that it caused a black-out in the van and the armor plating to descend, trapping them inside. At this point, I was rolling my eyes, because I'm married to a computer programmer and I know better. I even checked with him to be sure, and he said, "Um... no! Doesn't make sense." Lastly there's the fact that Dylan was supposedly hired by Nicki's father as private security for a meeting he was having with an ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain because of a missile test site program they were working on. Besides one other guy, Dylan was supposedly it. I immediately began wondering where the Secret Service was. Even back in 1999 when this story was written, ex-presidents received Secret Service protection for ten years after leaving office (now it's lifetime), and Nicki's father supposedly only left office six years before. Also, two ex-world leaders building some kind of private missile test site? Really? And these two men were supposedly the only ones who had the plans, yet they have just two guys guarding them? Ugh! I just couldn't even buy into any of this. Not to mention, I was zoning out through most of the story, because it simply wasn't holding my attention. I'm afraid that after three less-than-stellar reads in a row, I definitely won't be deliberately seeking out any more of Donna Kauffman's work. "Close Quarters" can be found in the anthology Yours 2 Keep.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook