by Lisa Plumley, contemporary (2002)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7111-6
The hero Ryan Forrester in Falling For April is one of the sexiest, most virile dudes I have ever encountered. When he appears in this story flashing that limitless platinum card of his, and the way he waves that hard, hot cash bundle around to anyone who wants some, I swear I melted on the spot. I'm in love. When I hear of his brand new notebook, that big mansion - or is that mansions - and that car, well, hello, darling. Marry me. Now. Or die.
Of course, our heroine April Finnegan doesn't care for the money, oh no. Even if she needs some bad. She is all about integrity. And honesty. And me shoving her head down that toilet bowl before I press the flush button. Romance heroines. They get on me kitties sometimes, I tell you.
Ryan, fresh from being jilted at the altar by a woman who apparently finds time to fleece him good before absconding with the Other Man, now decides to take up responsibility. He will be - uh, whatever that post his father appointed him in that department store business of theirs a while ago. But responsibility isn't going well. The security guards throw him out of the building because they don't recognize him and Ryan doesn't know what his position in the company is. Still, he makes it to the meeting in one piece and comes up with a brainwave to save the stores from being stomped out by those bloody superstores.
This is what he will do. He'll go to a small town and seduce the local merchants into being partners to the company. Or something. I've no head for business, the author doesn't go into details, so yeah, I have no idea what Ryan is going to do either, but I guess it's something, because he's doing it. Anyway, so here comes Ryan, tossing sponsorship money and expensive gifts on all those poor folks in smalltown Saguaro Vista, Arizona. I hate these people. I always wanted a Rolex. And a gold toilet bowl just like Queen Victoria.
April Finnegan, the local caterer, wants sponsors for her ailing catering company. When she should be going back to entrepreneur workships and getting a brain, instead she is annoyed that Ryan is stealing all her potential venture capitalists away from her. Damn! And worse, he is so hot (hey, with that Platinum American Express of his, I wouldn't disagree there). What is a woman to do?
She challenges him to survive a week without using his family money and connections. I told you, she's such a killjoy. He agrees. They fall in love. No, they want to be friends. April insists. Mind you, I'm sure she thinks that I need a good reason to like her, such as Integrity and Honor. April, listen closely. You have no business sense, you have run your business down the sewer pipe, and now you are telling me that here is a rich man wanting to toss money all over the place just to get into your pants, and YOU WANT INTEGRITY AND HONOR? Go kiss an emu. Go on, it'll be fun, I promise.
Still, April doesn't irritate me as much as she could, because unlike her previous books, Ms Plumley has tightened the screws on her storylines and cut down on the repetitious friends/no-friends/sex/no-sex circle of futility. The story actually moves towards a direction (and it's right towards Ryan's bank account saving April from Poverty and K-Mart, whether Ms Plumley wants to admit it or not) and that's good. Ryan, like I said, is so sexy. When he flashes that killer grin as he pulls out that diamond ring, when he tosses hundreds of dollars just like old dishwater out the window in some display of Grand Romantic Gesture, I am close to Book Induced Multiple Orgasms. Oh, and he's fun, cute, and adorable, so that's okay.
Yeah, yeah, the cynic in me says that this story wouldn't be that romantic if Ryan is a middle-class struggling single father working at the local fishery nearby. But one look at that car - and that bank book, and that credit card, and that house, and that ring - all is forgiven. And best of all, no prenup agreements! For that piece of delicious escape fantasy, I tell you, this book is alright.
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