by Terry Lawrence, contemporary (1990)
LoveSwept, $2.50, ISBN 0-553-44046-2
In Terry Lawrence's Wanted: The Perfect Man, heroine Cally Baldwin realizes that her current boyfriend is a married man (his wife called her and told her to stay away from the man) and decides to give up on men. Unfortunately, the moment she gives that no-good loser the heave-ho is the moment when Steve Rousseau takes a seat next to her in the bar where she is getting gloriously drunk. The attraction is there between the two of them but Cally is not willing to embark on any relationship at that moment. However, Steve lets drop that he is seeing this shrink as part of his company's attempt to determine whether Steve is the right man to a managerial position. Cally decides to see that shrink as well to sort out her own messy love life. These two are going to keep bumping into each other for a little longer, oh dear.
On one hand, I've to hand it to the author to have both the hero and the heroine visiting a psychiatrist. Is she aware of how in need of therapy both her characters are? Cally especially needs help fast. That girl is nuts. Steve isn't that bad although he could use some help in straightening out some betrayal issues in his past, but I have no idea why he is chasing after a woman who is determined to a very sour faced killjoy.
Wanted: The Perfect Man is a wish-fulfillment fantasy - it's a story where the hero pampers, coddles, and treats the heroine like a queen on a pedestal until she loves him back. In this particular case though, Ms Lawrence overdoes Cally's determination to be a complete killjoy to the point that Cally becomes a very unlikeable wet blanket. She is always determined not to enjoy everything that Steve does for her in order to make her happy to the point that she even says nasty and cutting things to Steve when she doesn't mean them. Even more annoying is Cally's refusal to take responsibility for herself. This is especially evident in her determination to be celibate. Instead of exerting her own willpower and telling Steve that she is not interested, she actually blames him for not staying away so that she can stick to her principles. Can't Cally control herself? It's really insulting how Cally acts like the world has to change for her instead of her taking the necessary steps to improve her own life.
Cally's nonsense takes a darker and more cruel turn when she decides that she must not let Steve believe that she loves him just because she's had it with men and men can't be trusted, after it is clear that Steve adores her and has gone out of his way so many times to prove it and make her happy. It takes the shrink to force Cally to admit that she loves Steve by the last two pages of this story, and that's just one page after Cally whines that she has to run away and hide from Steve because she loves him and has therefore ruined their relationship. Don't ask. Let's just say that Cally is a very, very, very stupid woman who doesn't deserve love as much as she is in need of a few hard wake-up bitch slaps. By that point, I am starting to think that Steve is a most stupid man for still loving a woman who takes everything from him and gives nothing back.
The heroine in this story is infuriatingly stupid and the hero acts like her spineless punching bag. I don't find this story romantic at all, although the characters are bloody pathetic in their own right. The shrink in this story should be fired for not telling Steve to run away from Cally as fast as he can and Cally to jump off a balcony as soon as possible.
Who knows, perhaps this frustrating story will be more enjoyable if I happen to read it while undergoing some phase where I believe that all men are bastards that deserve to squirm in misery.
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