A Class Act

A Hard Hearted Hero

In the Dark

Summer Heat

Loveís Funny That Way
by Pamela Burford
(Harl. Tempt. #812, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-25912-3
Hey, I liked this one. Iím a sucker for girlfriend books - you know, the ones where your friendships with your girlfriends are as important as the romance. Or, in this book, the reason for the romance.

The story begins with four eighteen-year-olds who are checking out boys on the beach. Amanda, Raven, Charli and Sunny know they have plenty of time to find the men of their dreams. But they decide if any of them need any help when, say, theyíre really old - like thirty - the other girls will set them up with a marriageable guy and they have to promise to give that guy a real chance. Time, of course, goes by.

And now Raven Muldone is thirty. And she isnít married. And the others are telling her they have a really eligible man for her. She promised, so she meets Brent Radley. He is a nice guy, handsome and smart and their date seems to go pretty well at the start. He takes her to a comedy nightclub where she meets the clubís owner. Thatís where things go wrong. Hunter Radley, Brentís little brother, is the owner of the club. Heís handsome and funny and Raven and he both realize theyíre interested.

This is the part where I gave the book the four hearts rather than five hearts. I find it hard to believe that if Raven hadnít just said good-bye to Brent and said hi to Hunter the whole situation - and book - would have finished without complications. But Raven has made a promise and, after all, it isnít as if Hunter and she are planning to go out. So she agrees to continue to see Brent since he is interested in seeing her and thatís what she promised her buddies sheíd do. She doesnít talk it over with the girlfriends until things get - well - complicated. And by then the girlfriends arenít quite sure what to do about the situation.

Who could? By the time she does chat with the others, Hunter is sneaking around, feeling like a worm, trying to make appointments to see Raven, who is a hypnotherapist, about his fear of heights. He doesnít really have any phobia like that, but he does want to see Raven. Meanwhile Brent is sneaking around with a swimsuit model but figuring he will marry Raven because, unlike the model, she wouldnít sleep with Brent on the first date. Raven has to be a good, old-fashioned, marriageable type of girl, right? And Raven is practicing a stand-up comedy routine to get over her fear of public speaking - and to see Hunter - who she is lusting after.

Raven does eventually decide, promise or no promise, she is going to throw Brent out on his cheating rear. That is a grown-up step in the right direction. I liked all these characters, though the other girlfriends are a little sketchy in this book, but I had to keep wondering why a thirty year old would stick to all the promises made almost fifteen years ago when it was obvious things were not going to work. I also wondered why her friends wouldnít immediately try to help her set things right when they realize their matchmaking had gone a little wrong.

But other than that, the book was fun. Hunterís real dilemma between family loyalty and his attraction to Raven seemed right. I enjoyed Ravenís annoyance that turns to real concern over the situation that her friends have gotten her into. And I even liked Brent who is very confused over what he thinks he should want and what he really does want. Yes, this is a mini-series and yes, I got to read the NEXT book and, yes, I really wanted to. As I get to know the girlfriends better, I suspect Iíll get to like the premise and the stories even more.

--Irene Williams

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