Star in your own bodice-buster


You can send a card. You can offer chocolates or flowers or jewelry of some kind. But what's really going to knock the socks off your beloved this Valentine's Day? A romance novel starring...the two of you.

With flashing eyes, the dark-haired flamenco guitarist pulled her close, caressing her alabaster shoulders. "Te quiero," he smoldered. "Te quiero tanto, tanto..." He pushed back her crimson locks as she closed her azure eyes to submit to the forbidden kiss. The kiss forbidden by her evil uncle Rudolpho, who would surely destroy them both if he knew of this meeting....

OK, I wrote that. But this is the very idea that is making a tidy living for one clever couple. For $50, Fletch Fletcher and Kathy Newbern will drop your name and details and those of your significant other into one of their published bodice busters. Don't have a sig oth? Pick one. Anyone. Here's your chance to sizzle with Fabio.

The couple have published 18 successful romance novels together since coming up with the idea at a writer's conference in 1992. And love them or hate them, the bodice buster is boffo business. Harlequin, one of the industry's largest publishers, sold 130 million books last year. Fletcher and Newbern (who write under the combined name of Fletcher Newbern - cute), sold 2,000 copies of their last book on Valentine's Day alone.

Enticed? Lovers who want to be forever immortalized in high romance novel style can fill out a questionaire on the couple's website, detailing eye color, hair color, favorite cologne, etc. Then pick your style: Mild, or wild.

Not surprisingly, most clients pick wild (although in true romance novel tradition, even wild scenes of passion are generalized and tasteful.) Using the miracle that is publishing software, your "characters" will be dropped into one of their books. For $80 you can even get the hard cover.

What is surprising: 50% of their clients are men. But then if your gal is into the genre, it's a pretty savvy move, guys. Women, like delicate flowers, respond best to gentle touches...and reading about themselves cavorting on the High Moors with their dashing heroes, their one true loves riding up on fierce stallions to sweep them off their feet and carry them away to...

...Or something like that. Really, this is probably the coolest Valentine's Day gift I've heard of. I also think that perhaps I'm being tragically underutilized at Walletpop.