Hometown Honey

Tame an Older Man

Under Deepest Cover

Virgin Promise

Her Perfect Man
by Kara Lennox
(Harl. American #1150, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-75154-0
Her Perfect Man is far from perfect, but if you don’t scrutinize it too much, it is an enjoyable part of the “Firehouse 59” series.

Julie Polk had just taken over Brady’s Tavern when her uncle died. Even though her mother is part owner, Julie has some loans that need to be paid off for it and thus she must make her venture work. Her dream is to renovate Brady’s, which has been the local hangout for cops and firefighters for years, into a semi-fancy tearoom for ladies. She is basing this dream on a tearoom in a local department store in downtown Dallas. Brady’s is in the working class neighborhood of Oak Cliff. Brady’s is also directly across the street from Firehouse 59.

The boys at the firehouse take one look at Julie and decide to send in their Lothario to charm her into re-opening Brady’s just the way they like it. But hunk Tony Veracruz spends just a few minutes with Julie and realizes that she is not just cute, but smart and energetic and maybe worth way more than a local bar. He and she have some chemistry and he is determined to see where it takes them. Now all he has to do is try not to alienate either Julie or the guys.

Both Julie and Tony are recovering from failed relationships and have secrets. One of Julie’s motivations is to show her ex-fiancé that she can make something of herself without him. Trey is a member of the upper class and while they were engaged he got his foreign housekeeper pregnant. When she reported her condition, he had her deported. Julie was outraged and broke off the engagement just weeks before the wedding. Tony is a single dad from a relationship when he was in high school. He and his girlfriend decided they were too young to marry and they share their responsibilities to their daughter, Jasmine. Since then, Tony has drifted from relationship to relationship while becoming first a paramedic and now a firefighter.

The tale does not stand up to much scrutiny. The issue of the loans never makes much sense. The whole idea of a tearoom in this area of the city doesn’t make much sense either, but Julie is too determined to listen. She says she needs to earn money to send her 18-year-old sister to college, but she sinks enough into the building to pay for at least a year’s tuition. And finally, there is a suspense plotline in which it looks like someone is trying to run her out, and the suspicions point to one or more of the firefighters. This just sort of fizzles out and is never dealt with.

Despite all that, Tony is a delicious hero with the right mix of sensitivity, machismo and sexiness. Julie is fun-loving and easy to like despite her lack of business sense. Together, they light up the pages with romance. The secondary characters are well written and easy to find common ground with. Priscilla, the female firefighter and Tony’s friend and landlord, looks to be the next heroine in the series.

Overall, Her Perfect Man is a fun reading experience. Just don’t analyze all the details while enjoying the romance.

--Shirley Lyons

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