Perfect Fit by Lynda Simmons
(Zebra Bouquet #20, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-6376-8
***
Perfect Fit is the story of Rachel Banks, bridal shop owner and seamstress. Rachel creates just the look her client wants for that perfect day, and some of them are pretty tasteless or bizarre. Her beachfront shop/home is filled with fabrics, lace, beads -- and books full of her own designs, designs that nobody has seen. If only she could afford to enter the Design Showcase competition in Miami.

Rachel's life is fairly stable and secure, albeit rather dull, until the day she meets temporary neighbor Mark Robison. Mark is a field cameraman for an international news agency, in town for his sister's wedding and to rest up from a bullet wound suffered on an assignment. Mark is a love-em-and-leave-em kind of guy, always anticipating the phone call that will send him to Africa or South America or Siberia, wherever the news is. Rachel is a nester, someone who longs for a family and someone with whom she can share her dreams. Their instant attraction covers some very problematic personality traits.

If Rachel can learn to take some risks, and if Mark can learn that he can travel the world and still call one place home, they may be able to work out their romance.

I enjoyed the backdrop of the bridal salon. Having worked in one myself, and remembering the too-strange-to-be-true brides and dresses that make up the business, Rachel's struggles to give the customer what she wants without torpedoing her own good name were realistic and funny. Mark is a good guy, confused as heroes are when their long-held lifestyles start to chafe, then crumble at their feet. He remains honest throughout and never attempts to use Rachel, which says a lot about his character.

Rachel herself was more problematic. She's unsure of how to deal with her feelings toward Mark, so her instant reaction is to be as rude to him as she can possibly be on several occasions. It just didn't seem warranted. For goodness sake, I wanted to cry, get your emotions in order and stop taking it out on this poor guy! Heroines who abuse the hero because they aren't able or willing to do a little introspective thinking aren't much fun and are even less sympathetic. She does calm down about halfway through the book, but by then she had quite a negative first impression to overcome with this reader.

Still, Perfect Fit does offer a light, breezy romance and a satisfyingly happy ending for both Rachel and Mark. They solve their dilemma in a realistic manner, too.

And those ugly wedding dresses are a real hoot!

--Cathy Sova


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