Youíre the One by Judi McCoy
(Zebra, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-7141-8
****
After one hundred years, the trust is finally dissolved, and Rand MacPherson becomes the owner of his great-great-uncle Colinís Victorian-era house in rural New Jersey. Colin MacPherson swore it was haunted, and the house has been unoccupied for all those years. Rand, the head of his familyís construction and development company, has always loved the house and intends to restore it and live in it. When he was an adolescent, Rand had sneaked into the house a few times and looked around the first floor of the three-story structure, but now he is the owner and can explore it all.

He walks through a center of prickly sensation, and Rand quickly discovers that his oddball uncle was right. The house does have a ghost.

Cassandra Elizabeth Kinross from Scotland was entombed in a third-story closet and has had sole possession of the house Colin built for her, his intended bride, for one hundred years. She is not happy to learn than she will now have to share it, but all her attempts to scare unwanted intruders away including mysterious winds and the disappearance of roofing shingles fail to work. Rand is more delighted and curious than frightened.

Soon Rand discovers that he can communicate with the ghost and discovers her identity; sheís the spirit of the bride Uncle Colin had claimed ran away. As the work on the house proceeds, Cassandra becomes more acquainted with Rand and other members of his family. She starts to feel guilty because, as an apprentice witch, she laid a curse on Colin and male members of his family that they will never find a lasting love until she finds her true love first. That explains why none of the MacPherson males have had a marriage that endured in one hundred years. Rand and his sweet little nephew Robbie are destined to suffer from the curse as well.

When the two brick walls blocking the door to the closet are torn down and the door opened, what is discovered will lead Rand to fear that Ďhisí ghost is gone forever.

This is a rare recommendation from me because a light-hearted ghost romance like Youíre the One is not the type of story that usually appeals to me, but I found this book unexpectedly charming. Perhaps being this isnít my usual fare makes my recommendation even stronger.

Rand is one of the most appealing beta heroes Iíve run into in quite a while. Heís sweet, sensitive, caring, and good with kids, but he doesnít come off the least bit wimpy. His reaction to discovering Cassandra really exists is unconventional - obviously this guy didnít see The Amityville Horror. As he passes through the ghost, he doesnít shriek or collapse in utter terror. From the very beginning Rand is delighted, even possessive, of Ďhisí ghost, so itís quite believable when he starts to charm Cassandra and wear down her defenses. He charmed me.

Cassandra is equally well portrayed. Colin really done-her-wrong, but she seems to have no strong streak of vengeance. She doesnít want to drive off Rand because heís Colinís relative -she just wants to be left alone. After one hundred years of complete solitude, anyone would be a little perturbed at facing acquiring an unwanted roommate. I did find her reason for spurning Colin slightly specious - Iím not sure she even had a choice - but if theyíd married and lived happily ever after, she wouldnít be still hanging around the place.

The subplots involving Randís family add some extra interest and depth. Rand and his sister seem to consider their mother fairly overpowering and domineering so I was expecting a bulldozing shrew when she finally showed up. To my relief, she turns out to be considerate and sympathetic - if a little pushy. I guess no one can see his mother the way the rest of the world does. Thereís also a nice secondary romance between Randís sister and his chief foreman.

If youíre looking for a light romance that will leave you with a smile on your face, I can recommend Youíre the One. Itís a charmer.

--Lesley Dunlap


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