The Virgin's Proposal

The Bachelorís Dare
by Shirley Jump
(Silh. Rom. #1700, $3.99. G) ISBN 0-373-19700-4
Shirley Jump has followed up The Virginís Proposal with a take-off of all those reality shows currently on TV. The Bachelorís Dare is full of silliness and loads of dialogue, but if you can stick with it, the romance is ultimately satisfying.

The premise: the first twenty people in line get to live in a deluxe RV in the middle of a mall until there is only one person left. The winner gets the RV. Predictable things occur and the cast is as zany as only a writer can dream up, from a newly married couple who want the RV to go on their honeymoon to a couple married for forty years who want to retire to Florida.

Our two main characters have a history and are surprised to see each other 10 plus years after high school. First we have Mark Dole (brother to Katie from the previous book). Mark has led a storybook life Ė or so most people think. He was deemed a hero when he was young and the small town in Indiana has never let him live down that reputation. Girls have fallen at his feet, he was the star of the football team and it seemed like everything he wanted, he got. Everything he wanted until a few years ago when the business he and his twin brother were running went bankrupt. Now he is in the RV hoping to win it. He plans to sell it and take the money to stake a new business enterprise they are thinking about.

His prime antagonist is Claire Richards. Claire and Mark grew up together and were forever teasing, nagging and generally in each otherís face. Yet they were friends. Their one and only date ended in disaster. Claire has had a much more difficult life than Mark. Her mother died when she was only eleven, leaving her with a less than perfect step-father. She only discovered he was her step-father a few months ago when he died. She has now found her real father and needs to get to California to see him, as he is dying of cancer. She has quit her job at the local beauty parlor and is set on winning the RV and heading to California.

The pace of this story varies and at times drags, as all the action is mostly talk, occurring in the RV. Everything is revealed through conversations Mark and Claire have as they plot to win. If you like the current slate of reality shows, you will like this story. Otherwise, you may find it less than scintillating, as I did.

The sexual tension builds nicely, although nothing is explicit, as Mark and Claire discover they have feelings for each other they never knew they had. Each has ghosts of the past they must get through and this is the main conflict in the story. Markís ghosts are secrets he has kept and guilt from his business failure. Claireís revolve around not seeking her dream earlier and letting a man sidetrack her from what she really wanted. I did like each of these individuals and did enjoy their foreplay to the love that was blossoming. However, the whole premise just left me feeling like I was the one stuck in an RV with weird people and I just wanted to bail!

But if you are a survivor, and are looking for something offbeat with a hint of the ridiculous, then The Bachelorís Dare might be for you.

--Shirley Lyons

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