Dr. Irresistible

First Comes Love

How to Trap a Tycoon

My Man Pendleton

Her Man Friday

That Boss of Mine

The Sheriff & the
Imposter Bride

Society Bride

He Could Be the One
by Elizabeth Bevarly
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-380-81049-2
Fraternal twins Eve and Simone Van Dormer are planning to attend their 20th high school reunion. Soon after graduation their father suddenly and secretly moved them from a Cincinnati, Ohio, suburb to southern California. This will be their first opportunity in all those years to see members of their high school class. Their father Luther Van Dormer, however, is worried; he believes that their lives are in danger from the mob. As long as they remained in California, they have been safe, but now they are returning to the locale where they were at risk nearly two decades earlier.

He hires Wyatt Culver and Julian Varga, partners in a Cincinnati security firm, to act as bodyguards for his daughters. (I don’t know about you, but if my father insisted that my life was in danger and I needed a bodyguard - and a hunky one at that - I’d be quick to agree that was doable.) What’s Eve’s and Simone’s reaction? They scoff at any potential danger and assert that they can take care of themselves. (Oh, brother! How many times have you seen a romance heroine say that? And can she ever?)

Eve and Wyatt were high school classmates and strongly attracted to each other even though they never dated. At their high school prom, they ended in the back seat of a car, but Wyatt couldn’t perform. (And it happens again, too. Now this is different: a romance hero with performance problems!) The boy next door, Brian Richie, discovers the disheveled Eve and takes her home. Everyone jumps to the conclusion that Wyatt assaulted her, and Wyatt becomes the class outcast.

Eve has recently emerged from a fifteen-year-long emotionally abusive marriage. She feels the need to attend the reunion to assert her independence. Years later, however, the flame is still there between her and Wyatt.

Simone has another reason to attend. She’s been living in a time warp - her California bedroom is still decorated with the dolls and stuffed animals of her childhood. She pined away for blond Brian Richie through four years of high school. His wife has recently died, and she wants to reestablish contact with him.

She eventually accepts that Julian, who’s nearly a decade her junior, will accompany her, and the two fly off to Cincinnati. At Luther Van Dormer’s insistence, Wyatt arranges a mock kidnapping, and he and Eve start the long drive from California to Ohio.

Over the course of the journey to the reunion, both couples will discover things about themselves and each other.

Readers who have been looking forward to Elizabeth Bevarly’s next screwball comedy may be disappointed with He Could Be the One. Yes, there’s some snappy dialogue between the main characters where they actually say those clever things you wish you’d said when you think back on a unsatisfactory conversation, and there are some amusing situations, particularly a scene where Wyatt and Eve crash a St. Louis high school reunion. But the general tone of the story line is far too serious to be considered a comedy, and all four major characters have heavy baggage from their past to work through. Not one of these characters survived adolescence with a “that wasn’t so bad” attitude.

There are several holes in the plot, particularly how Simone’s family could be oblivious to her career. Furthermore, the story suffers from some uneven pacing. The two heroines are fraternal twins with very different appearances and personalities. They get paired off with the two heroes early in the story, and from then on the plot moves along the lines of the ball in a mixed doubles tennis match - bouncing back and forth between first one pair then the other.

It’s possibly a consequence of the uneven pacing that I never found myself much caught up in the either plot. Just as soon as things start moving with one couple, the chapter ends, the focus shifts, and my interest would downshift accordingly.

Eve and Wyatt’s story is the principal one, but the Simone and Julian subplot is only slightly less important - although from the blurb on the back cover you’d never know Simone and Julian even exist. This is unfortunate because I found the Simone and Julian subplot more interesting than the main one. Eve and Wyatt engage in too many episodes of coitus interruptus, and I found Wyatt’s inability even to think the word ‘impotent’ and his use of ‘matriarch-fricking’ just too darn cute and too darn unrealistic to tolerate.

Elizabeth Bevarly is a talented author with a deft way with comic dialogue, but He Could Be the One has too many flaws to raise it above acceptable territory.

--Lesley Dunlap

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