by Julia London, contemporary (2006)
Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 0-425-20919-9
Extreme Bachelor is a simple story. Michael Raney believes that his job as a stuntman/playboy leaves him with no room for a committed relationship so he jilts the woman he loves, Leah Kleinschmidt, after shagging her and after she has won a coveted role in a Broadway play. I don't know about anyone else but it's not a good sign when the hero makes me want to shove an alarm clock down his throat by the prologue in order to teach him a thing or two about timing. Cut to some time later when she's of course at her wit's end about her acting career and she ends up in the same movie where Mike is one of the Thrillseekers Anonymous people in charge of whipping the cast into shape.
Unlike some of the author's previous books where the heroine refreshingly refuses to let the hero indulge his "I wanna sleep with other women because you deserve more than me in your life!" nonsense, here Mike is allowed free rein to indulge in that particular nonsense way of thinking of his. It's not even a particularly reasonable kind of baggage - Mike is, plain and simple, a stupid jerk in this respect and no amount of pseudo-psychobabble can change that unless Ms London reveals that sometime in Mike's childhood a bunch of girls had laughed at his puny wee-wee and he has been carrying some kind of complex ever since. Leah is... well, Leah. Like an increasingly predictable Julia London heroine, she's ditzy and sometimes surprisingly mature.
The plot is in shambles. When Mike is not involved in female catfights over him - which, of course, makes him even more of a catch in my eyes, I tell you - there is a cartoonish villain trying to cause trouble. But ultimately, at the end of the day, I have to ask myself: is Mike really worth all that trouble and heartbreak? I don't think so. This is where Extreme Bachelor doesn't work for me. Mike is too much like a commitment-phobe who won't be good for a brown cow like Leah for the long run. Instead of wanting to give this book a glowing recommendation, I feel like handing Leah a copy of He's Just Not That Into You instead.
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