Rich, Single & Sexy
by Mary Anne Wilson
(Harl. American.#760, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-16760-1
****
Harlequin American Romance is beginning a new series entitled "The Ultimate . . ." and January's entry is the ultimate catch. January's bachelor is Rich, Single & Sexy. February is going to give us the ultimate lover. This series, if January's entry is any indication, shows lots of potential. Sometimes books come along that are just really fun to read. I'd say this book entertained me the whole time I was reading it. That in itself is quite an accolade.

Rich, Single & Sexy is based on a deception which turns into one delightful story. With her thirtieth birthday approaching, librarian Maggie Palmer accepts an invitation from her long time friend, a woman who married into a rich and powerful family. The old friend wants Maggie to celebrate in the family's villa in the Caribbean. Maggie balks at such luxury, then decides to accept her friend's advice: You'll fit in if you act like you own the world. Pretend you're a long lost cousin.

Connor McKay is rich (bilyuns and bilyuns), single and sexy. Or so a woman's magazine has proclaimed. We first meet Conner as he finds a woman in his bed, a stranger who claims to love him. Yeah, right. Conner, negotiating another bilyun dollar deal, heads for his Caribbean villa, next door to where Maggie will be staying. In a memorable first meeting at midnight, no less, Conner is coming out of the ocean, sans suit, when Maggie spots him. He's both surprised and angry at seeing a woman on his secluded beach. Spotting her, he demands, Who the hell are you? And what are you doing on this beach? Remembering her friend's advice that 'Attitude Is Everything', Maggie claims to be a cousin of the rich and powerful family.

Immediately Conner accepts her. She's a relative of a rich family and therefore isn't a gold digger. She's 'one of his kind' and is most assuredly safe. So, her lie is more protection than deception. When Maggie realizes that he's one of 'them', she does her best to avoid Conner. But Conner has never before had to work hard to get a woman's attention. He's intrigued.

What follows are more doings of the rich. I had fun looking over her shoulder as she's chauffeured, has lunch at a club where there's no bill, gawks at rooms in his villa even he hasn't seen yet, gets lost with Conner in a wine cellar and goes to a glittery masked ball. I also felt her anguish and fear, knowing that Conner would probably consider her to be beneath him when he finds out that she's a librarian. (No, we librarians don't make bilyuns . . . yet.)

There's no true conflict, no moral issues, no social responsibilities being debated, just two people falling in love, no more and no less. Sometimes I need books that are essentially pressure-free, books that just let me view two people building a relationship. The ending is a delightful surprise, one that had me wanting to hug Conner. I also kept coming back to the cover art. The guy on the cover is my idea of gorgeous with a capital G.

Reading Rich, Single & Sexy probably won't change your life. There are no tips on winning the lottery or tried and true beauty secrets. But it should give you a pleasurable time while you're reading it. To me, that's money and time well-spent.

--Linda Mowery


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