Berkley, $5.99, ISBN 0-425-19126-5
Contemporary Romance, 2003
I find much of the appeal in Nancy Herkness’s debut effort A Bridge to Love comes from campy nostalgia value. The writing of this book has an old-school feel to it, sort of like those 1980s Harlequin Mills & Boons novels when we have a frustrated and jaded working class woman being courted by a super rich zillionaire hero. As a nice plus, the hero Randall Johnson isn’t cruel or moronic like those heroes of yore, although the verdict is still out there whether he’s just a sad stalker or a control freak.
As a widowed single mom to two kids, Kate Chilton has no time for love and romance, and when she’s stuck in a blind date from hell (her own words), this MIT graduate engineer decides that maybe she should just take a break from that dating thing. However, while she doesn’t like her date, she thinks his friend Randall Johnson is kinda hot. He thinks so too, and he asks her out. She declines – remember, she’s no longer in the market for this sort of thing.
Then she discovers a letter from her late husband’s mistress to that man, and she is horrified and angered. Her husband didn’t love her! She must take revenge! By having a one-night stand with Randall! Personally, I would find peeing on the late cheating bag’s tombstone or even better, hijacking a steamroller to destroy the grave site a much better method of revenge, but hey, what do I know about these sort of things? Some people will make any excuse to have sex, I guess.
However, like lice, Randall isn’t something she can shake off easily come the morning shower. Randall, for some reason, decides that he really, really wants this snappy and often curt woman, and since he is a CEO of a super-duper company and he gets what he wants, no problem, he’ll get Kate for real this time. Watch him insinuate himself into Kate’s life by taking her kids to ball games and what not. Watch him charm her like a Prince Charming that has flunked the last three months of Romantic Courtship School (which is to say, he can be very charming, but he can also be insufferably overbearing at times). If you like to indulge in a fantasy where Randall spends the whole book winning and charming Kate even as Kate keeps saying no, no, no close to the bitter end to his proposal, this is your book. If you wonder what kind of twit will turn down a rich man who’s besotted, this book is not for you. I’m a little of both – I roll up my eyes at times at Ms Herkness’s one-note “the heroine protests too much” plotting. but I can’t deny that I am also won over a little bit by Randall’s devotion to winning Kate over. Okay, maybe it’s more than “a little bit”.
The writing can be a little stilted or choppy at times, but since Ms Herkness is a debut author, let’s just wait until she has put out a few more books first and see if she can improve. A Bridge to Love is a little thin on plot (there is no suspense elements to pad things here) and Kate’s characterization can be trying on the nerves, but like I’ve said, there’s something oddly charming and even quirky about the old-school style of writing and plotting.