A Class Act

A Hard Hearted Hero

In the Dark

Love's Funny That Way

Summer Heat

I Do But Hereís the Catch
by Pamela Burford
(Harl. Tempt. 816, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-25916-6
Charli had always been the plainest and the shyest of the four females in her group. She was the one who took the promise they made back when they were eighteen very seriously. All four of them had vowed that if they hit thirty and werenít married, they would let their buddies set them up with a potential husband. Charli had the feeling even then that she was going to need a lot of help. As the years go by, Charli becomes only more convinced she should resign herself to spinsterdom.

Soon after the girlfriends marry off the oldest of the group, Charli also hits thirty without a husband. In fact she has hit thirty with practically no experience in dating. Along with her self-consciousness about her looks, she cares for her widowed grandmother and elderly parents and has a full-time job. She figures she is hopeless. But her girlfriends are determined to change her life and they set her up with an ambitious attorney, Grant Sterling. Charli is overwhelmed by him and by the date.

Grant is less excited, though he is surprised to find he enjoyed Charli more than he expected. He leaves, not intending to ever return, when a co-worker spells out the facts of law firm life to him. In his firm, people who make partner are married. Grant desperately wants to make partner and he also desperately wants to maintain his present unencumbered lifestyle. Charli, who seems shy and undemanding and capable of hostessing his parties, seems like the perfect solution.

He proposes to her thinking he can keep everything safe - be married, make partner, and still do exactly what he wants in every aspect of his life. What he doesnít count on is that his intended marriage partner might not go along with his plans.

Watching Charli change from shy Charli to hurt Charli before she finally erupts into magnificently angry, sexy Carlotta is quite a treat. She starts as something of a doormat and turns into a woman to be reckoned with. This book would have been a five hearter if Grant had an equally fascinating conversion. But while you learn to understand why Grant wants to dominate and control his marriage, itís hard to sympathize with him. He comes to value Charli and their marriage and even to realize his terror of passion and a loving marriage is wrong. He makes a great apology and does all the right things . . . eventually. But before all that he really treats Charli shabbily - he only dimly realizes he is doing something wrong and tries to make it up to her in all the wrong ways. That makes it hard to warm up to Grant.

By the end of the book you know that their marriage isnít going to be one of master/doormat but itís a rather painful process to read. On the other hand, thatís because you really come to care about Charli and whatís going to happen to her. And you want to find out what happens to the third girlfriend in the group.

--Irene Williams

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