Her Best Man by Christine Scott
(Silh. Romance #1321, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-19321-1
**
Alex Trent has been achingly, madly, and silently in love with Lindsey Richards for years. Unfortunately for Alex, his best friend Danny got to her first, so poor Alex had to stand by while the two formed a relationship and eventually got married. And after their marriage, Alex still hung around as a friend to Danny, a pal to Lindsey, and a godfather to their son, Jamie.

Conveniently, Danny dies, leaving Lindsey a widow and a single mother, and leaving Alex with a chance to make a relationship with "the only woman he would ever love." Or maybe not. See, Alex doesn't seem to know quite how to make the transition from friend to lover with Lindsey. After two years of mourning Danny's death, is she even ready to begin a new relationship? Will she ever see him as anything more than a friend? These are the questions Alex torments himself with while he dates a bunch of other women.

For her part, Lindsey is too concerned with making ends meet to worry about romantic complications. Her husband's death left her finances in turmoil, so she's been breaking her back for two years to provide for her son. And, as Alex decides, she needs a vacation.

Alex is bound for his sister's wedding in Florida, and he feels that the sunny shores would be the perfect place for Lindsey to relax for a few days. He has a couple of ulterior motives, too for one thing, if he brings Lindsey along, his mother won't be able to play matchmaker for him and any available bridesmaids. For another thing, he wouldn't exactly mind getting Lindsey alone for a while, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

So, after much persuasion, Lindsey agrees, and almost instantly regrets her decision. As friendly as they are, she and Alex haven't really spent much time alone together, so she feels a little nervous and awkward about the whole situation. But it's too late to back out now although she tries a couple of times so off to Florida they go.

One of the major things wrong with this book is that there's really not a whole lot keeping these two apart. Once they get to Florida, a string of misunderstandings, distractions, and overblown conflicts manages to keep them apart, but it feels contrived and unnecessary. Alex and Lindsey both overreact to the simplest things after a mild argument, both of them feel that their friendship might be over forever! As another example, when Alex knocks on Lindsey's door at one point, and she doesn't answer right away, his heart lurches and he feels sure she's left without telling him!

Give me a break. If these two had ever just sat down, talked things out, and made a couple of mildly courageous decisions, they'd have been happily ever after in no time. But instead, they make excuses, become outraged over nothing, and generally pussyfoot around until it's time for the happy ending.

Another thing that bothered me was this creepy undertone that slipped in after Alex and Lindsey had their first mildly sexual encounter. Suddenly, Alex who had previously been a nice, understanding if stubborn kind of guy becomes domineering, pushy, and almost bullying at times. He's described as "intimidating," and at one point Lindsey thinks that "the scowl he wore on his face was enough to send a quiver of fear through any woman's heart." Excuse me? Fear? Am I supposed to find him sexier this way?

As for Lindsey, she's nice enough, I suppose, but she's a bit weepy and indecisive. And then she has sudden moments when she becomes headstrong and furious over the least significant things. Puzzling.

It's possible that other readers will find this book more enjoyable than I did. If you like plain and simple stories, maybe Her Best Man will fit the bill. For me, reading about unremarkable characters with easily-resolved problems leaves a little something to be desired.

-- Ellen Hestand


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