It's a Guy Thing

Marriage on Her Mind
What Phoebe Wants

A Man to Rely On
by Cindi Myers
(Harl. Super #1530, $5.50, G) ISBN 0373-71530-7
The characters in A Man To Rely On have major deficits as well as the perseverance to overcome major obstacles in their lives. For me, there was too much to overcome for this to be totally believable.

Marisol Luna Dixon has a lot to deal with. When she was a youngster, her father died, leaving her and her mother Mercedes with little. But Mercedes remarried a man who seemed to have it all; yet he had issues. When Marisol was 15, she jumped off the local bridge naked and her reputation was set. Shortly thereafter she left Cedar Switch, Texas, swearing she would never return. She went on to marry a famous and rich basketball player. After having a lovely daughter, the marriage started to deteriorate. But it wasn’t until she was accused of murdering her husband that everything really fell apart and she realized how little she knew her husband.  It is now about four months since the sensational trial and acquittal and Marisol is coming back to Cedar Switch to sell the house she inherited from her mother and try to rebuild her life with her 14-year-old daughter, Toni.

Scott Redmond was a few years younger than Marisol and he remembered how she looked as she jumped off the bridge – proud yet vulnerable. The memory never left his mind, even as he grew up and joined the world of high finance and real estate. There were women, booze, and eventually, drugs. Scott became addicted to methamphetamines and when he hit bottom, he was stealing from his boss to feed his habit. Luckily for him, his boss had great respect for Scott’s father, who paid back all he had stolen and got him into rehab. Scott has been out for about a year, has started his own business and has some contracts with Marcus Henry, a well-heeled financier who is determined to make his name in the real estate market by building golf courses and condos.  He even has plans to tear down the old hotel in town and rebuild loft condos for Houstonians who want a quick getaway from the city.

Scott and Marisol meet when Marisol stops by to see Scott’s father. She remembers him as a man willing to help a troubled young girl and she has hopes that he can point her in the right direction about selling the house and finding work temporarily. Marisol used most of her money in her defense against the murder charge.  he needs money to carry her through until they can sell the house. Then she and Toni will take off and find someplace where the spotlight is not shining on her.

These two hit it off in the chemistry department – but have a load of reasons why they would be bad for each other. Scott still has panic attacks, a side effect of so many drugs, and Marisol is struggling with the need to start over and her daughter’s criticism of everything she does. This is a story about trying to start again and having to deal with obstacles like publicity seeking media and stigmas about past actions. It is the story of putting practical concerns before pride and handling life as it comes at you day to day.  They start off deciding just to have an affair since the sexual attraction is so strong, but ultimately find they need each other as friends as much as they do as lovers.

Sadly, this story missed the boat for me. The obstacles seemed forced at times, and there were many times when it felt like the author was trying to reel the reader in with sympathy. I like when romance characters have to show they have some guts, but I don’t necessarily want them kicked while they are down all the time. The whole tone of this story had that feeling to it. And when Scott actually had a panic attack, it was hard to reconcile the hero with the very real needy man.

Others may find A Man to Rely On as a good wholesome story about a second chance at love. I found it depressing and could never really wrap myself around the story. 

--Shirley Lyons

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