by Susan Wiggs, contemporary (1999)
Harlequin Romance, $4.50, ISBN 0-373-82585-4
This book starts off Heart Of The West, which is to be a 12 book saga about former residents of Lost Springs Ranch, a correction institute, returning to the place to take part in a charity auction. The Ranch's in financial trouble and the boys, now men, would play their part to the hilt. Did I say that? I wonder if they do jumping out of birthday cakes wearing only whipped-cream. Hmm. Oh well, they're probably out of my wallet's range.
Never mind that the whole plot is created just to play on a woman's fantasy of having a willing toyboy. This story has Dr Rob Carter, a pathologist, being sold as a high-school reunion date to Twyla McCabe. Twyla runs the local beauty salon and has a bad past with a man (don't they all, honey?). Rob is engaged to a socialite in hope that marriage to her would give him the respectability and family and acceptance denied in his childhood. Both are adamant to keep this whole nonsense a one-day masquerade. However, too much alcohol and walk under the stars tend to loosen tight lips. They find that they have more in common with each other than they thought. They start to feel this thing between them. I'm not talking about that, pervert. I'm talking about attraction.
But can Twyla learn to trust a man again? How about Lauren, Rob's fiance? And darn, how come I never knew pathologists can be so filthy rich like Rob? Darn, to think I gave up a career in medicine to torture lab rats instead. Thinking of the luxuries I miss is enough to give me a headache.
This story may be a tired old affair, but I love the way the author slowly develops the relationship between Rob and Twyla. This is no grope-and-smack-lips thing. It's a nice, leisurely friendship-first affair, a convincing one too. These two people actually interact and talk and laugh together, and it is easy to see them together for the next fifty or so years. Oh, and Rob's money can't hurt too. Ouch, am I a jealous poopie or what?
One quibble though: where's the family dog?
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