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Man Trouble    by Melanie Craft order for
Man Trouble
by Melanie Craft
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Everyone who knows studious, 'dowdy' Professor Molly Shaw agrees that she's a good teacher and very knowledgeable in her field of Caribbean history. Since her father was a two time Nobel Prize winner, there's a very good chance she'll soon receive tenure at the distinguished Wisconsin campus of Belden University. But only a very few souls know about Molly's secret life as romance author Sandra St. Claire. Sandra's agent and publisher are dying to meet the secretive author and would probably jump cartwheels when (or if) she agreed to write a sequel to her best selling historical swashbuckler 'Pirate Gold'. Molly isn't prepared to reveal her identity and risk her career -- but then a close friend asks her for a special favour.

Struggling journalist Carter McKee is desperate to get the scoop on billionaire Jake Berenger. For almost twenty years the handsome 'playboy' has been seen in all the right places, escorting some of the most beautiful women in the world. But he has never granted an interview. With Molly's help, Carter hopes to get an exclusive. His plan is that he and his sister Elaine (she's a professional matchmaker and makeover diva) will 're-invent' Molly and turn her into one of Berenger's ideal women (blonde, buxom and fond of pink). Then they'll check into Jake Berenger's exclusive five star Caribbean resort where Molly will proceed to seduce the elusive billionaire as her alter ego, Sandra St. Claire.

At first Molly thinks her friend Carter has gone nutty, but eventually she warms to the idea, if only for the opportunity to research her next novel. She does get Jake Berenger's attention all right -- but for all the wrong reasons. It's not long before he's figured out her scheme (or at least half of it) and turns the tables on her by blackmailing Molly to pose as his fiancée in the hopes of re-inventing his own playboy image - thereby renewing investor confidence and stymieing a hostile takeover bid. Molly wants to refuse but knows that if word got back to Belden that she wrote a lurid historical romance, her career (along with her father's) would be ruined.

Melanie Craft has created a fun-filled contemporary romance, with insights into the machinations of the big business and media worlds, as well as a brisk and humorous plot. I found the scenes, in which Molly and Jake continually try to out-maneuver or out-scheme each other, overdone. As a result there isn't really much of a romance until close to the end of the book. It was also a bit hard to believe that an intelligent woman like Molly would allow Carter to drag her into such an off-the-wall scheme -- or not see it for what it really was. But Craft's great characterizations and breezy writing style kept me turning the pages to find out how Molly was going to fix her Man Trouble.

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