High-Society Bachelor
by Krista Thoren
(Harl. American # 908, $4.50, rated PG) ISBN 0-373-16908-6
**
High-Society Bachelor barely has enough conflict to get a story started, let alone sustain it. Add a heroine who spends the entire book telling readers how mature she is while acting like she’s about fifteen, and you have a pretty disappointing read.

Deborah Clark, party planner, rents an apartment above the offices of Cameron Lyle, a handsome, wealthy financial consultant and member of Indianapolis’ Most Desirable Bachelors list. (To complete the obligatory fantasy, he also drives an expensive sports car. Try not to yawn.) Cameron thinks Deborah is pretty and lively, but too young for him. Deborah thinks Cameron is attractive and sexy, but too much of a commitment-phobic playboy. When Cam hires Deborah to plan a large dinner party for him, they get to know each other a bit. Cam discovers Deborah is older than she looks and they are only four years apart in age. But each decides they are all wrong for the other.

Deborah and Cam circle each other, trying to maintain disapproving attitudes. She thinks he’s commitment-shy. He thinks she could do with a bit more polish. But darn it, she’s so attractive. And he’s so hunky. Cam proposes that Deborah be his social companion for a few weeks, since he needs to attend some functions and is without a steady girlfriend at the moment. They both agree that this is a good way to get each other out of their systems, because obviously they are all wrong for each other.

And there’s the conflict in a nutshell. “I like you, you’re attractive and funny and charming and sexy, but you’re all wrong for me and to prove it I’ll date you.” See what I mean? Noting like a few preconceptions cast in concrete. Wouldn’t two rational adults approach it a little differently? Like, say, “Let’s just go out and have some fun and see where this goes”? The whole idea felt forced and artificial.

Deborah is also one of those heroines who flares up into high drama rather than simply talking to Cam and explaining herself like the mature adult she claims to be. She storms and stalks and barges into Cameron’s office, demanding his time and immediate attention whenever she thinks he’s done something wrong. He buys her a dress and she has a hissy fit about him purchasing clothes for her. A newspaper photographer snaps their photo and she accuses Cam of orchestrating the whole thing. By the middle of the book, I was tired of her antics. It’s not much of a romance when the reader wishes the hero would dump the heroine and forget the whole thing.

Cam was a decent guy, other than the “I’ll prove we’re all wrong for each other” bit. Women have always been after his money, etc. but he’s not obnoxious in his dealings with Deborah. When Deborah huffs around, he at least tries to talk to her and explain his side of things. We’re told he finds her outrageously attractive, but frankly, I couldn’t see why. She’s blonde, looks good in a dress, etc. But because they spend so much time bickering and trying to convince themselves this is a doomed relationship, their interaction felt superficial, without any kind of deeper connection being established. Neither of them came across as anything more than Romance Character, Standard Grade.

High Society Bachelor just doesn’t deliver. Give this one a pass.

--Cathy Sova


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