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Manhunting in Montana

One Mom Too Many

Santa in a Stetson

Single in the Saddle

Pure Temptation

Every Woman's Fantasy by Vicki Lewis Thompson
(Harl. Tempt. #826, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25926-3
Every Woman's Fantasy is another in the Texas Men Magazine series, the fictitious magazine that features lots of Texas' eligible bachelor hunks. This is one high class magazine that won't be found in a brown paper wrapper. I do think a plastic cover to protect it from sweaty hands might be a good idea, though.

Mark O'Grady has a bad track record. He's just jilted his fifth fiancée. Mark's problem is unique; he loves women and he loves being in love, so much so that he proposes too quickly, normally after a wonderful bedroom interlude. He's always come to his senses before he's made a lasting mistake, but this guy's a serial fiancé. His best friend/fifth time best man Sam decides to feature Mark in Texas Men. They'll sort through all the applicants and make an informed choice this time, one based on more than lust.

Yeah, sure, lust won't be a factor, and the Dallas Cowboys have just been run out of town, too.

The suitable candidate appears to be Charlie McPherson. She and Mark have been corresponding for three months. On paper, they seem so suited, but Charlie is guilty of hiding behind the anonymity of paper and embellishing herself. She sees herself as the girl next door, wholesome and sweet. She's led Mark to believe that she's one sexy babe. For their first meeting, she decides to dress the part, appearing in a siren red dress that makes Madonna look tame. Her goal is to get Mark into the sack.

Uh oh!

Poor Mark. How's he going to change his habit of bedding and proposing? His good intentions are going to be wrecked by Charlie's dress and exposed cleavage. How's he going to keep his zipper zipped and his mind full of chaste thoughts? His good intentions are suddenly being held victim by parts down south. Having Charlie wrap herself around him on the dance floor and whisper that she wants to make love is his downfall. How can he resist this woman that he considers ‘the one' instead of number six?

Vicki Lewis Thompson has given us engaging lead and secondary characters. Mark is a good guy whose motives are pure, if misguided. He proposes before he really knows the woman in question. He's jilted so many women that his mother won't come to any of the ceremonies. He's really sure about Charlie, but their beginning is no different from any other. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and trust the characters.

Charlie is part ingénue and part sultry siren. She's more comfortable outdoors, but because of her intelligence and self-assurance, she's comfortable in most situations. She's tired of being considered the girl next door and is absolutely delighted with her newfound ability to make a man drool and lose his train of thought. It's never happened with anyone but Mark, which makes him all the more special.

Mark's best friend/man Sam and Charlie's sister Ashley add their own brand of comic relief. Sam tags along to the first meeting to try to talk some sense into Mark. Ashley is there for to keep Charlie from going too fast. Only Mark knows that the two have the wrong idea about the other, a big lie helped along by Mark. Picture transvestites and rashes and you'll see why Sam and Ashley tend to step lightly around the other for a while.

Yes, I got a kick out of Every Woman's Fantasy, but I can't give it a recommendation. I found it too fictitious, an illusion. It's hard to think good thoughts about a man who's dumped five women at the altar, but Ms. Thompson writes Mark with a light hand. But perhaps that's part of the problem. Mark doesn't seem to have any real form. It's hard to accept that he'll actually follow through and marry Charlie. His modus operandi hasn't changed, so why should I think that he has.

Every Woman's Fantasy is light, frivolous and whimsical, with a dash of silliness thrown in. Perhaps if Mark had been more substance and less fantasy, I might have been more comfortable reading it. As it is, it has too much of a fairy tale feel for me.

--Linda Mowery

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