The Virgin’s Proposal
by Shirley Jump
(Silh. Romance, #1641, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-19641-5
When rebel Matt Webster decided to go back to his home town and make his peace with his family and his past, he never expected to fall in love with a turquoise-eyed woman in a banana suit who begged him to pretend to be her fiancé to show up the guy who’d dumped her. But that’s exactly what happened.

Katie Dole is a twenty-four-year-old virgin who’s never left her hometown, and is trying desperately to make the flower shop she and her best friend own into a success. Katie believes she’s a failure who never succeeded at anything, including losing her virginity, and the idea of losing the little shop she and Sarah have put so much of themselves into is the last straw. She can’t believe it when Matt, gorgeous and dangerous-looking, roars up on his motorcycle and stops to flirt with her, even though she’s wearing a banana costume.

Luckily, the same day that Matt gets to town, Olivia MacGuire, the only interior designer in town, stops by their shop and orders several arrangements for her clients, promising to order more if she likes them. Complications ensue when Katie sees Steve, who dumped her at the altar to run off with Barbara, in the grocery store and pretends that she’s involved with Matt. And since that pretense started off with a toe-curling, sizzling hot kiss right there in the spaghetti aisle, it’s not long before the whole town knows that something’s going on, even if they aren’t sure quite what. Factor in Olivia’s wrath when she finds out about the “engagement”-she’s Matt’s ex-and it’s easy to see how things get real complicated, real quick.

Katie wants Matt to keep her from looking like a jilted bride, Matt wants a good girl to help him overcome his bad boy reputation, and they both want each other, even if neither is willing to admit it. But complications have to be resolved before the relationship can go anywhere. Matt’s ghosts from the past must be laid to rest, and Katie must learn to believe in herself before she can accept his love. While a category novel doesn’t allow for much complexity in characters or plot, first-time author Jump makes the best of the format, and presents a full complement of believable and likeable, yet flawed characters, and plot lines that allow for a few surprises along the way. Hopefully, The Virgin’s Proposal will the first of many novels from this promising author.

--Joni Richards Bodart

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