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Her Prince Charming

For Better, For Bachelor
by Nikki Rivers
(Harl. American #764, $3.99, PG-13) I SBN 0-373-16764-4
By page two of For Better, For Bachelor, I had doubts about this story. On page one, the heroine awakens to see a strange man in her bed. She recognizes him as a TV news personality. On page two here's what she sees: "The thick, straight dark hair in need of a cut, the scruffy stubble on his face, shadowing his lean cheeks and square chin, the high cheekbones and thick lashes." Knowing that the 'Helicopter Hunk' couldn't be in her bed, she assumes she's dreaming. And goes back to sleep. Put yourself in her place. Say you awaken to find...Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, Adrian Paul, whoever your dream man is. I'm not sure what you'd do, but I doubt seriously that you'd turn over and go back to sleep.

There's a good reason why Marcus Slade, the worldly TV reporter a.k.a. The Helicopter Hunk is in Rachel Gale's bed. Rachel's mother owns a bed and breakfast. Registering late after an evening of drinking and reminiscing with an old friend, a friend who owns the local newspaper and coincidentally is Rachel's boss, Marcus mistakenly ends up in Rachel's room and falls asleep in her bed. Awakening the next morning, he sees Rachel and assumes that she's another groupie after his body and tosses her into the hall.

Rachel Gale, described too often as a spinster, is interested in Marcus Slade but knows that nothing can come from her attraction. Here's a globe trotting reporter who makes no secret of the fact that he dislikes small towns and is just here vacationing between assignments. Marcus is mutually attracted, but remembers his small town roots and being branded a thief, just like his father. His hometown subscribed to the philosophy that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. He wants no part of small town life and makes daily plans to leave. We're never allowed to forget that he's just marking time.

Rachel is a harmless, bland character, as are most of the town's secondary characters. The main irritant is Marcus. He's so sure of his good looks and his sex appeal that he comes across – to me, anyway – as egotistical. When his old friend teases him about Rachel's seeming disinterest and how Marcus must be losing his touch with the ladies, here's Marcus' take. Don't you believe it, old man. If I were sticking around, Rachel Gale would fall just like the rest of them. Self-assurance in a hero is one thing. Being a braggart is quite another.

The secondary characters do add color and interest to the story, and a plot surrounding Rachel's jerk of an ex-fiancé adds texture to the story. Several of the little old ladies always call Marcus 'Mr. Hunk', something that I found touchingly sweet. Nothing, however, makes up for the mismatch of the two main characters. Rachel needed some more depth, some spark to make me care about her and her future. Marcus needed...um, a kick where it hurts might be a good start.

Even though I didn't care for either one of the protagonists, I didn't dislike them strongly enough to warn people off this book. If you're lucky and squint just right, Marcus might be appealing, and you might find Rachel pleasant. I guess I was optically challenged when I read it.

--Linda Mowery

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