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The Bachelor    by Carly Phillips order for
by Carly Phillips
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2002 (2002)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

What's a mother to do when her sons remain the three most eligible bachelors in town with no change in sight? Why she springs into action of course and helps steer her stubborn male children closer towards the matrimonial path. After a small health concern brings Raina Chandler's sons circling round her, she decides to use her 'condition' to her advantage. Making her illness sound worse than it really is, Raina tells her three boys, Chase, Rick and Roman, that her fondest wish before her further decline is to see at least one of them settled and with a baby on the way. All three men cringe at the very idea: Chase is much too busy running the Yorkshire Falls newspaper, Rick has only recently had his heart broken by his ex-wife, and Roman is having too much fun as a globe-trotting journalist. Even so, they love their mother dearly and, loathe to cause her any more undue stress, decide amongst themselves that one of them has to tie the knot and produce a child. The fairest way to solve the problem is by a coin toss and it's freedom-loving son Roman who loses.

Charlotte Bronson has had a crush on Roman Chandler since high school, just as Roman has always regretted that she was the one to get away. No one is more surprised than Charlotte that Roman is back in town and in short order begins actively pursuing her. Determined not to fall for a man like her father, (for surely Roman and her usually absent dad are two peas in a pod) Charlotte decides that if she and Roman get together at all she'll be calling the shots. She'll give Roman an affair to remember but will never give the gorgeous globetrotter her heart. Besides, her Number One priority these days is keeping her erotic lingerie shop in the black. Roman too, has ulterior motives in his initial pursuit of Charlotte - if he is the one to get married and father a child, it will be Charlotte or nobody. She will understand his need to leave her and their baby for long periods of time - he's sure of it. Once their steamy affair gets going, however, both Charlotte and Roman realize how wrong they were about where their wild fling would take them and how both are inevitably speeding towards heartbreak.

Carly Phillips offers a breezy book, despite the motivations of a few of the main characters being almost too manipulative. Ms. Phillips presents engaging characters however, who manage to rescue a plot device that might not have worked had the overall tone of the story been more serious. Add to the mix a secretive panty thief mystery, a variety of equally engaging and often amusing townsfolk, and good writing and The Bachelor, (part one of a trilogy), makes for a nice summer afternoon's read.

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