The Bachelor Chronicles by Lissa Manley
(Silh. Rom. #1665. $3.99, G) ISBN 0-373-19665-2
***
This is Lissa Manley’s debut and she fell victim to the bad habit of allowing the hurts experienced by the characters in the past to rule their present lives. In addition, she used this as a backdrop to several misunderstandings. If you can still enjoy a story using this plotline, then The Bachelor Chronicles is one to try.

Erin James is a newspaper reporter trying to make it in the business. She is assigned a fluff article with the promise of a byline and a bonus if she does a good job. She is to interview an eligible bachelor in the Portland, Oregon area and write a story. Several other reporters are doing the same thing. Interested female readers will then write in and the editors will choose one woman to date each bachelor, which Erin will also write about. Then one bachelor will be chosen as the “winner”.

Erin is forced to choose rich playboy Jared Warfield. Jared is the heir to a fortune, but as also the owner of a chain of trendy cafes, which he started on his own. Erin is reluctant to meet Jared, due to her past. She was married to a rich man, Brent, who ran around with other women, bought her baubles to satisfy her, and then divorced her. The divorce left her debt-ridden and heartbroken. The bonus she will earn will go a long way to helping her get on her feet again.

Jared is leery of reporters and has his own reasons for hating the thought of the article. He was raised by a cold father, who never showed love and who moved from woman to woman throughout his life. He had a sister whom he loved dearly, but who got mixed up with drugs and then died in a motorcycle accident. Jared now has only his toddler niece, Allison, to love and love him. He feels he must protect her from the press at all costs.

Sparks fly and attraction flares when these two meet. Yet their lives are extremely complicated as they travel through misunderstanding after misunderstanding on their way to true love. The story is generally predictable and often made me cringe to see the reactions of the pair. But their eventual emotional growth saved the day.

The story is interspersed with scenes that are humorous and poignant. When the “date” Jared goes on is interrupted by silly dog antics, it is easy to laugh. When Erin goes out of character to appear sexy and almost falls on her face thanks to the heels she is not used to wearing, it is easy to empathize with her embarrassment. At the same time, it is easy to recognize the predictable nature of these scenes.

So why would I give this an acceptable rating? Manley wrote in a style that was readable and generally kept my interest. Despite my misgivings about Erin’ reactions, she does eventually think things through and realize her errors. Jared is warm and caring with his niece and is horrified to realize he is acting like his father at times. He too, learns quickly what he needs to do to set things right.

Manley clearly needs to work on her plotiting, but her writing shows promise. I think if every reader accepts that the premise is two characters dealing with past disappointments then there is room for enjoyment of The Bachelor Chronicles.

--Shirley Lyons


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