Golden Man by Evelyn Rogers
(Lovespell, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52295-0
**
Sometimes the power of the Internet is awesome. On the basis of one quote from a total stranger, I bought Golden Man. If I had been walking down the aisle looking at books, this one would not have been picked up. The beefcake cover with a blond Adonis, a man who looks under thirty, in no way indicates that the Golden Man is the President of the United States. Plus the woman on the back in an uncomfortable position looks as though she's wearing gypsyish clothing, suggesting a historical book.

Thirty-nine-year-old Steven Marshall is President of the United States. And a bachelor. This last fact is giving his advisors cause for concern. His re-election is in three years, but his image of either a playboy or a monk has got to go. He needs a steady companion. Steven makes a deal with them. In jest, he says that the next eligible woman to come through the door will be a woman on whom he'll concentrate.

Ginny Baxter is the woman who literally runs into the Oval Office from the Rose Garden. She's been on a White House tour and just that morning took a diuretic. Now she's desperate for a ladies' room. Oops, hurrying through the White House, making wrong turns and an unauthorized trip to the Oval Office will get you in trouble darn near every time. Meeting Steven Marshall while handcuffed and surrounded by Secret Service men is not how she ever imagined meeting the sexy man. Little does she know that Steven plans to invite her to a reception at the Department of State.

Ginny, a single mother of a sixteen-year-old baseball fanatic, works at the front desk of an auto shop. She's pretty much given up on men and is concentrating on her new job and her son. Never did she envision what her ill-fated entry into the Oval Office would bring.

In a scene reminiscent from The American President, Ginny thinks that she's getting a prank call, not one from the President of the United States. Just because she's met him and has a date with him that evening, surely he wouldn't be calling her. Such is her illogical thinking. Much like Sydney Ellen Wade responds to her American President, Ginny tells the prank caller, "Since this is our first date and all, I don't know what someone in your position expects from a woman, but I don't go all the way, not right away, if you know what I mean. Maybe later, if we hit it off, but we definitely don't do the nasty first time round the track." Call me grumpy, but I didn't find this scene funny.

Cinderella stories happen all the time, both in fact and fiction. Blue collar Ginny, though, in no way reminded me of Cinderella. She's not interesting, captivating, witty nor does she possess any of the qualities which would attract a man long-term. I just couldn't imagine a man, cultured, rich, powerful, being interested in her. She even runs away several times from various White House functions, ala Cinderella at midnight. Throw in a surly son who tells the President to say out of his mom's pants, and you've got a story about two characters who don't seem to compliment each other. Picture Fran Drescher as Ginny and Peter Jennings as the Prez. Not a good fit, is it?

If you've been reading romances for a long time, you might be a bit thrown off by calling the lead characters Steve and Ginny. Those two names will be forever immortalized by Rosemary Rogers' lovers from Sweet Savage Love. To me, that's akin to naming the characters Scarlett and Rhett.

If I ever gain the insight and am able to analyze what makes some characters come alive and walk off the pages, if I can ever figure out why some characters stay with me for days after I've finished the book, I'll write my own stories and make millions. You can call me Susan Elizabeth Roberts Garwood. But I can't put my finger on that magic, that life that some authors breathe into their characters. I just know it's not here. Steve and Ginny were flat, just ink on paper, words on a page.

Lovespell advertises this book as part of its Perfect Heroes series. Steven Marshall didn't come across as my idea of Presidential or perfect or a hero. Give me Michael Douglas any day.

--Linda Mowery


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