An Irresistible Bachelor
by Jessica Bird
(Ballantine, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-345-45896-6
Here are two smart, confident people who meet, are attracted, act like adults, fall in love and figure out a way to be happy. There is one slight burp that hints of “the big misunderstanding” but they stay true to character and work it out rather quickly. An Irresistible Bachelor is one book that proved itself irresistible to enjoy.

Callie Burke is a conservationist of art, a professional who restores paintings to their classic beauty through intricate handwork and cleaning. She is relatively new at this and nervous about taking on her first big job, a portrait that dates to the Revolutionary War and is important to the owner because it is his ancestor. She is more worried though, about her attraction to the owner.

Jack Walker is a multi-millionaire businessman and possible candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in the next election. He has restored the family fortunes after his father (who was not a good businessman but loved to give away money to philanthropic organizations) almost bankrupted the family. He has now purchased the last of the family portraits that had been sold off and he wants to hang it back in the study in its place of honor. He hires Callie at the recommendation of a friend who also happens to be Callie’s secret half-sister.

Callie, you see, was born into a non-family. Her mother was the mistress of a famous businessman who just happened to be married with another legitimate child. Callie lived her life knowing her father, yet unable to publicly acknowledge him and he failed to show Callie any love when he made his clandestine visits to her mother. After his death, she confronted her half-sister Grace, a celebrity in her own right, who accepted her as a friend, but decided to protect her parents’ reputation by keeping it quiet. And Callie has agreed to that.

Jack is a twin. He and his brother grew up knowing that Jack was going to save the family from ruin. Nate wanted to be a chef and pursued that dream, while Jack entered the business world. And Jack outsmarted his father by demanding a piece of the family holdings for every loan he made to his father. At the time of his father’s death, Jack had maintained ownership of all the property and many of the possessions. His mother, a woman who herself was raised poor and married well, lives off his generosity but doesn’t really appreciate his talents.

Now, Jack has met Callie. He had just become engaged to an old family friend, deciding it was time to curb his playboy ways (which the press had definitely exaggerated) and to help in his campaign. He decides to break things with Claire because he finds himself too attracted to Callie. Callie and he begin a love affair. But they hit rough roads when Jack starts talking about running for office and Callie will not trust him with the truth about her parents. When Jack’s mother gets involved it turns ugly and something’s got to give.

I truly enjoyed these two characters and their intelligent interactions. They love but they are not dumb about it. They realize that they have issues to overcome and they talk. Even when they are angry with each other and they both choose to sulk, it is done with some sense of acknowledgment that this is not the best way to work things out. Circumstances work with them to finally resolve their issues.

The secondary characters include Callie’s half-sister, Jack’s brother and mother, Jack’s campaign advisor and the family chef and all are written with multi-dimensions. This is so refreshing in a novel that is being marketed for the romantic appeal of the story. Jessica Bird is new to me, but I find myself looking forward to Nate’s book and searching used book stores for Grace’s story.

An Irresistible Bachelor looks on the surface like one of the off-kilter romantic comedies that are currently so popular. But look beneath the cover and you will find a well-written, engaging and intelligent love story.

--Shirley Lyons

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