A Man Worth Marrying
by Phyllis Halldorson
(Silh. Romance #1395, $3.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-19395-5
***
Whatever happened to heroes and heroines who had issues? Whose inner self was twisted just enough to have no serious affect on their daily lives, but enough to wreck havoc on their romantic lives?

I enjoyed the battles they fought against each other and within themselves as their concrete boundaries slowly metamorphosed into a thin insubstantial veil. And what overwhelming fulfillment as they ripped down that last inconsequential impediment to attaining true love, happiness and inner peace. Where, oh where have all the warped ones gone?

If, like me, you enjoy a little well-written angst with your romance, then A Man Worth Marrying may not completely satisfy, but if you dig a novel without many surprises, read on.

Gray Flint is everything most women would ever want in a man. As a successful weatherman at the local television station is Sioux Falls, South Dakota, he is mature, handsome and charmingly urbane with a great sense of humor. A single father who shares custody of his eight-year-old daughter, Tinker, with his ex-wife, Gray is desperate to find a tutor who can help Tinker learn to adjust to her recently discovered dyslexia. Determined to settle for nothing but the best, Gray checks with a friend at the school board who points him in the right direction.

Eve Costopolous is still young enough to believe that one person can a make a difference and she’s doing all she can at the city’s worst public elementary school. That includes everything from tutoring children after school to beginning a fundraising drive to repair the school’s leaky roof. Just one-year after graduating from college, Eve has already become known for her dedication to her students. She’s just the kind of tutor Tinker needs.

When they meet, the attraction is instantly apparent to both of them but they each have their own reasons for fighting their desire. For Gray, his marriage to the often infantile and irresponsible Bambi would be qualified an unmitigated disaster save that it brought Tinker into his life. Naturally, he’s not looking for another entanglement, especially with a much younger woman. And Eve is leery of becoming involved with an older man who obviously has not made a clean break with his ex-wife. He tells her in no uncertain terms that he is not interested in a committed relationship.

At this point in the story, I was enjoying myself despite the fact hat there weren’t any great issues these two needed to overcome. But then, after setting the reader up for a sweet tale, for some inexplicable reason the plot takes a steep dive and descends into second-rate melodrama that just doesn’t feel right.

Aside from the dramatics, the biggest problem with the second half of the book is Eve. At the start of the story, she is an idealistic but levelheaded young woman who is committed to the mission that she has set for herself. Even after her first few encounters with Gray, Eve remains very practical and clearheaded, able to concisely enumerate the reasons why a relationship with him is not in her best interest. However, somewhere along the line she has some sort of mental shift that forces her to take a drastic (and dare I say improbable?) step to end the romance. I found the reasons for this sudden change as well as the resolution of her fears more than a little bit overdone. They seemed completely untrue to Eve’s character.

I love drama and the more troubled the character, the happier I am when they work out their problems and are able to live happily ever after. But when authors create drama simply to spice up a novel whose hero and heroine are Mr. and Ms. Normalcy, it can’t help but come across as contrived.

In the end, it’s just like my mother is forced to remind me when I occasionally start to create drama in my life where none really exists, “Lakie, sometimes a rock is just a rock, not a meteor.”

--Walaika Haskins


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