Prince of the City
by Nikki Benjamin
(Silh. Spec. Ed. #1575, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-24575-0
***
The last of the Manhattan Multiples series is a fun story about a second chance at love for two people in their forties. Prince of the City is a nice romance, but has a few irritating features that keeps it from being more.

Eloise Vale is the widowed mother of thirteen-year-old triplet boys. She has dedicated her life to her family and her work. Manhattan Multiples is her business, a non-profit organization specializing in helping women with their pregnancy and caretaking of twins and triplets. Being non-profit, they rely on city funding and private donations for their support.

Bill Harper is the mayor of New York City, a city whose finances are not in great shape. Bill is determined to revitalize the city, and one of his major initiatives is to cut funding for non-profits and deploy the money into other city services.

Bill and Eloise also have a history. Seventeen years ago, they dated and Bill asked Eloise to marry him. She turned him down, thinking he was more interested in his burgeoning political career than in her. She turned around and married an older man, Walter Vale, and had her three boys. Bill married too, and that marriage ended in divorce, partially because Bill never completely got over his love for Eloise.

Eloise agrees to go out with Bill in order to let him know why his proposed funding cuts would be so devastating. Once they start going out, they agree to disagree and not bring up this divisive issue. What they do discuss is the sparks that fly and the sexual tension that is stirred. They discuss life and how much they enjoy it when in the otherís company. Bill immediately hits it off with the boys and love blossoms. Of course, the conflict of the funding does rear its head and the two must resolve the issue before their happy ever after.

I liked Bill. He was a down to earth guy who just happened to run the city. This part was not totally believable, as he often made decisions that could have been disastrous in a real political climate, but I could overlook this fairly easily. He was funny, honest, and more than willing to show Eloise he still loved her. He didnít push, he just offered, hoping she would take him back. One small thing that I didnít like about him was his insistence that he would ďtake careĒ of Eloise and she should just trust him to ďdo what is rightĒ.

This brings me to something that was more difficult to overlook - the incongruity that Eloise presented. Here is a forty-something woman who has been a successful CEO and mother of three children. Now she is confronted with some obstacles and she becomes mush. She whines rather than gathering her team to look for solutions. Then at other times, she is very rational and knows what she needs to do. Yet she is still a little whiny about the unfairness.

Eloise also becomes mush when Bill is near. She easily forgets everything but how wonderful he makes her feel. She is willing to blindly put her trust in him, then gets upset and pouty at the first sign that he didnít do what she wants. I didnít like this about her and this made it hard to like her.

For those who have been following the series, there are glimpses of the others who have had their own romances, yet Prince of the City stands on its own. Itís just a little off-balance.

--Shirley Lyons


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