Beloved Bachelor Dad
by Crystal Green
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1374, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-24374-X
***
Is it OK that to say that I would never buy a book with this title if left to my own devices? It makes me think of Ď50s sitcoms. With that out of the way, I can assure you that the story isnít nearly as bad as the title. Ray Brody meets his sonís student teacher when the boy begins writing essays detailing his life of drinking and breaking into houses. Ray, who just got his son back after his ex-wife left with their child year ago, knows he is in trouble. Nora Murray wants to help her student. She likes Trent Brody even though his dad is good-looking enough to make her very nervous.

Nora is the type who wants to save the world, even though she thinks she isnít worth a second glance from an attractive man. Her bad childhood makes her want to help Trent before he makes a terrible mistake and gives her the courage to approach Ray. Ray is interested in any help sheíd like to give him, even though he knows letting his hormones rage with Nora would be a bad idea all around. In this instance Father Doesnít Know Best - or at least he isnít sure he does. Nora is even worse. Almost every character in the story, from her roommate (who goes to the bar Ray owns to check him out) to Trent to Ray, has to push her into being with Ray.

Ray, who struggles to be a good dad and, later, a worthy lover is a fine character. Nora, who battles her insecurities for the sake of her students, also has fine qualities. Trent, who is the instigator of the whole story, is a problem. Heís interesting, but Iím not sure I see him as a real seventh grade boy. Heís had a strange childhood but sometimes he seems very young, sometimes much too old. And his motivations donít seem right for a close-to-adolescent who probably would prefer to ignore adults in the real world. They seem even less right for a kid who had an indifferent, drug-addicted mother who eventually abandoned him to the father he barely remembers. Trent ought to have a lot more of the problems that he fakes in order to get Ray and Nora together.

While overall I enjoyed the story and the lovers, I began to notice a lot of the really tough elements in the story were glossed over or told in such a distanced way that it was hard to feel the emotional impact they should have. Noraís childhood makes her insecure but when she tells Ray what happened to her it seems less compelling than it should be. We never really get Trentís story the way someone like Nora Roberts would do it. No, Iím not asking this author to be Nora Roberts. But I wish the things the author deals with could have been handled with more punch.

--Irene Williams


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