Blind-Date Marriage
by Fiona Harper
(Silh. Romance # 1843, $4.25, G) ISBN 0373-19843-4
**
Jake said, “I thought I was being noble but I actually I was just being very, very stupid.”
And Serena responds, “I had this picture-perfect idea of my future…it was stupid.”

Thus the hero and heroine summed up Blind Date Marriage for me. I agree.

Jake, aka Charles Jacob Jr., is a successful accountant who has risen from the slums of London and built up a business and reputation that he can be proud of, far from his past. His father was scum and is wanted by the law. His mum did her best but the slum property was the best her hard work as a cleaner could buy. Despite that, Jake and his sister Mel have done alright; both determined to leave the world they knew for something better. Because of the poor role model of his father, Jake has always understood that his charm will help him in business and in getting women, but he is not the long-term commitment kind of guy. All of his relationships have been short term and have not involved his heart.

Until he has a blind date with Serena (aka Serendipity) Dove. Serena calls herself by the shortened version of her name to escape notice. Her parents were love children and rock-and-rollers. Her father, for whom she serves as manager, is still a rocker but struggles with drugs and now alcohol addiction. Serena is always trying to get him into rehab. Her ideal future is to find a man who will love her, be stable and provide her with a home in the suburbs with children. She has tried all the artsy types, none of whom were up to snuff. Now her friend Cassie has started setting her up with more refined professionals and an accountant sounds just like what she needs.

Jake and Serena begin with a rocky and somewhat comical start, when Serena unknowingly drenches Jake with water from a puddle. She gives him a ride home and he stands up his blind date due to the drenching…a date that happened to be with Serena. But they eventually start dating and spend the entire rest of the novel trying to figure out their lives. They break up as often as they are together, all because of Jake’s insecurity around relationships.

I liked their story for about the first half, and then the self-admitted stupidity kicks in. They fall in lust and can’t seem to stay away from each other, but they always end up running and hurting each other “for the good of the other.” By the third or fourth “start and stop” scene, I didn’t care if they ever connected; I just wanted the story to be over. I liked the brief glimpse we got of Mel, Jake’s sister and of Serena’s dad, Mike. There is a young hood turned singer who also seemed intriguing. However, neither Serena nor Jake kept me engaged in their romance.

Ms. Harper shows promise in her debut when her two characters are learning about each other and starting to fall in love. The first half of the book was entertaining and romantic. Hopefully she will be able to put a whole tale together without resorting to the unnecessary conflicts that she used in Blind-Date Marriage.

--Shirley Lyons


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