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The Irresistible Mr. Sinclair
by Joan Elliott Pickart
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1256, $3.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-242256-5
***
The Irresistible Mr. Sinclair is the second story in Joan Elliott Pickart's "The Bachelor Bet" trilogy. After a strong hand-off from Pickart's Taming Tall, Dark Brandon, I was eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Be careful what you ask for.

The Irresistible Mr. Sinclair failed to meet my expectations for the same reasons I was never fully able to buy into the Superman story. As a journalist, I never understood why ace reporter Lois Lane took a lifetime and three reincarnations before she discovered proof positive that Clark Kent was really Superman. To paraphrase a well-known attorney, Superman slouching in a polyester suit and wearing dorky glasses is still Superman.

The Irresistible Mr. Sinclair is a camouflaged identity story of sorts.

Janice Jennings has been betrayed by the two people in the world she should have been able trust -- her husband and her mother.

Janice had been raised to use her looks as a commodity. Competing in countless beauty pageants had robbed her of her childhood. At the age of 18, her mother parceled her off to be the trophy wife of a wealthy man in his 40s. One night her mother and husband, who had been having an affair, were killed in an automobile accident. Their betrayal, and an incident in college, drove Janice into an unbecoming physical disguise.

We meet Janice Jennings as the owner/manager of Sleeping Beauty, an upscale lingerie boutique in Phoenix. She is hiding behind a severe bun, thick glasses, oversized boxy suits and oxfords.

Enter Mr. Taylor Sinclair. He's the irresistible one. The other Mr. Sinclair, his father Clem, is an accountant who had to retire for health reasons. His son has returned from New York to Phoenix to take over his father's accounting practice. Janice is one of his clients. He is intrigued by what he suspects is lurking under Janice's drab exterior. Taylor is more than up to the challenge.

While The Irresistible Mr. Sinclair has its moments, it is no Taming Tall, Dark Brandon. Andrea, Brandon and "the aunts" make appearances in this story. However, the characters, particularly Brandon's irrepressible twin aunts have been neutralized in the story. Even the wonderful "dancing butterflies" in Taming Tall, Dark Brandon have been replaced by hummingbirds.

It's not for lack of trying. As a matter of fact, sometimes the author tries too hard. Sleeping Beauty references abound.

"Sleeping Beauty. Yes, Brandon was right. That was exactly who Janice Jennings was...Sleeping Beauty.

She was waiting for her prince, the man who would awaken her, give her the confidence to emerge from her cocoon and become the beautiful butterfly she was capable of being.

A man who loved her enough to encourage her to embrace the full extent of her femininity."

On another level, I think I took exception to the inferences hidden within that statement. However, the heroine's actions and reactions indicate that Janice had somehow repressed a desire for her prince to come and set her free.

Other references were a bit more subtle, but I often felt a subliminal elbow in my side and a voice that kept saying, "Get it?"

The word on The Irresistible Mr. Sinclair?

I vacillated between a two and three-heart rating for this book. You might want to resist Mr. Sinclair, just a little.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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