What do you get when you combine a prude and a faux philanderer? Not exactly An Eligible Bachelor, as the title suggests, but rather a story whose characters don't know where they're ultimately headed. And that indecision makes for a story that's not very interesting to read.
Single mom Geneva Jensen wants to remarry, but this time she'll chose a man who'll be a good father to her young son and not a skirt-chaser. She's just moved into an apartment she loves, but she's leery of her landlord, a man who seems to collect women like black pants collect cat hair.
One of the reasons the landlord agreed to rent to her is that Geneva will help her landlord's brother, a young man with Joubert Syndrome, a genetic disorder. Geneva works out of her home and compares herself to June Cleaver and Betty Crocker. Even though she's attracted to her landlord, she's going to be extra careful the second time around, however. Unlike her first husband, there will be no philanders in her future, thankyouverymuch.
Wade Matteo, Geneva's landlord, is Bachelor of the Year. And he has a small pin to prove it, a pin that he wears constantly and proudly. He makes no secret of the fact that he's a love ‘em and leave ‘em type of guy. He's attracted to Geneva, even though she represents everything that he doesn't want...so he says.
The basic premise is that Geneva and Wade are exactly what the other doesn't want. The rest of the book is spent showing how they fight their attraction and lose. It's the childishness that bothers me. Wade sets Geneva up with three different men, yet manages to be on hand to ruin each of the dates. When he runs off candidate number one at the end of the first and only date, a man described as a deacon/Sunday school teacher, Geneva is
furious. She claims that Wade broke them up. After one date she considers them a couple? And if a man turns tail and runs because he's had ice cream dropped on him, who needs him?
Is Wade her big brother or a jealous suitor?
Geneva is much too prudish. She bemoans the fact that she won't meet a ‘nice' man when everyone finds out that Wade is her landlord. Walking through his home, she's surprised that there are no "beaded curtains, overlarge mirrors, mood music." What's she been watching, the Playboy Channel? She also makes several references to the fact that her next husband will be a good father to her son, and that any feelings she has for him are secondary. Gee, a prude and a martyr.
Author Carolyn Greene has good intentions when she introduces Joubert Syndrome as a plot device, one that could have really educated us about this unknown disorder, but it's never fully utilized. The listed symptoms don't seem to have afflicted Wade's brother. If it's the main focus, then the lens needs to be adjusted. Even the Silhouette senior editor has this to say:
"And finally Carolyn Greene's An Eligible Bachelor has a very
special secondary character- along with a delightful hero and heroine."
Nothing's really in focus if a secondary character is listed first.
An Eligible Bachelor doesn't know whether it's a message story or a
story about second chances or one that focuses on trust. Whatever it's
trying to say, I never heard it.