Island Magic

One of a Kind

When a Man Loves a Woman

Unforgettable by Bette Ford
(Harper Torch, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN: 0-06-053307-2
Bette Ford's first romance for Harper Torch returns to Detroit, the setting for some of her most popular stories.

Unforgettable is the story of caterer Anna Prescott and her long-time friend Gavin Mathis. Gavin, a professional athlete, teammate and best friend of her older brother, has been a regular around the Prescott household since Anna was a teenager. Unknown to Gavin, she has secretly had a crush on him for some time. While Gavin has been unaware of Anna's crush, he has become increasingly aware of Anna.

Anna's father is a high school coach. Her brothers and cousin are professional athletes - super jocks of the highest order. It was hard for Anna growing up in a house full of manly men. She was taller than most of the boys her age and was a bit of a tomboy. At 27, Anna  has decided to make some changes in her appearance. And, although the transformation is a product of her growing personal and professional self-confidence, Gavin wrongly assumes the changes are the result of her interest in a man. Curiosity combines with a hint of jealousy and he wants to know who Anna's suitor is. When Gavin asks Anna, she shrugs off his questions and tells him the truth: she did it for herself.

Gavin is not convinced. With his help, Anna has built a successful catering business, which includes a sort of meals-on-wheels service for several local professional athletes. Gavin has decided to watch her a little more closely to see if he can determine the object of her affections. 

About this time, Gavin's estranged father passes through Detroit on a gambling jaunt. He leaves Gavin with a surly teenage half-brother he never knew existed. Gavin has never had a relationship with his father. But, because he was raised in a loving home by his mother, Gavin is determined to do right by his long-lost brother.

 He gets Anna to help him by preparing meals for his brother and by having the Prescotts look after him while Gavin is on the road with the team. Anna's teenage brother befriends Kyle who attends the same school. The arrangement bring Anna and Gavin even closer and they acknowledge their feelings for each other. Anna presses him to keep their growing relationship a secret from her close-knit, but overprotective family. 

Bette Ford is back on track with Unforgettable. The characters are well-defined and believable. Several secondary characters, who don't get in the way of the telling of Gavin and Anna's tale, deserve their own stories. The conflict and family rift are reminiscent of my favorite Bette Ford story, After Dark. The author even forges a connection with that book through Anna's cousin Ralph who is a teammate of Scott Hendricks, a secondary player in After Dark. Other Detroit series characters -- Taylor and Donald Williams, Dexter and Anthia Washington, Charles and Diane Randol and Quinn and Heather Montgomery - make cameo appearances as does the city's current mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick. And, although Unforgettable is a stand alone, it provides a good reason for new readers to discover the Detroit stories in her backlist.

It's worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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