Desert Isle Keeper
On the surface, Stefanie London’s latest release, Bad Bachelor, is a fun, romantic comedy with a modern premise. It’s the story of an unlucky-in-love librarian finding herself in a relationship with a playboy bachelor she first sees on a dating app. While it definitely lives up to that promise, it also offers some sharp commentary on our current society’s use of social media and our inherent tendency to believe what we read until we find contradictory evidence. While I hoped for an enjoyable story, it surpassed my expectations and has a good chance of ending up on my ‘best of’ list this year.
Darcy Greer almost didn’t escape what would have probably been a disastrous marriage if she hadn’t caught her fiancé and their best man canoodling right before the wedding (ouch!). It’s been several months since that fateful event, and her friends have been encouraging her to re-enter the dating world. There’s a new dating app available called Bad Bachelors that rates some of New York’s most eligible men – men, who are way out of Darcy’s league, but still worth a look, if only to remind herself she’s not the only one with dating problems. The worst of the bunch is the devilishly handsome marketing and PR executive Reed McMahon. So imagine her surprise when ‘New York’s Most Notorious Bachelor’ shows up at her struggling library to help organize their charity fundraiser.
Reed is getting pretty tired of the sideways glances, the behind the hand giggles and the not so funny jokes from his co-workers and friends due to his lousy Lothario profile on Bad Bachelors. But what seemed like just an embarrassing social status is having real world consequences when his clients start ditching him, citing concerns that they don’t trust him to handle their PR crises if he can’t manage his own. Reed relies on his job to pay medical bills for his aged father. He can’t afford to lose it, or a chance for a promotion due to a stupid dating app.
Reed puts on a good face with Darcy, playing his role as a smug playboy while working with her to set up the library fundraiser. But as they spend time together, it becomes obvious that there’s more to him than his reputation. Should Darcy trust the opinions of the women on the dating app who make it clear that Reed is only good for a one-night stand or her own instincts that say he’s worth a second look?
When I read the synopsis for this romance, I loved the idea of a dating app that would rate the bachelors based on women’s experiences. Each chapter in the story starts with one of the reviews left on Reed’s profile, and the general consensus is that the women are quite satisfied with his bedroom performance but don’t think much of his bedside manner after the fact. What becomes clear is that while some of the reviews are truthful and have been written by women Reed remembers, a large portion of them are fake. It looks like someone is out to damage his reputation. Because Reed’s job is in jeopardy, he makes it his mission to discover who is behind the app, and why they have targeted him. What seems like something fun and harmless has serious consequences. It makes one wonder about review sites in general, and whether an outpouring of positive or negative comments is an honest reaction from individuals or a coordinated attempt to influence opinions. It’s a cautionary note to keep a healthy dose of skepticism if something looks too good (or too bad) to be true.
Darcy initially believes the reviews about Reed on the app. But the more time she spends in his presence, the more she has trouble aligning what other women have said with the man in front of her.
Darcy finds herself attracted to Reed the caring son, Reed the community baseball player, Reed the hardworking fundraiser, Reed the man. And that attraction is mutual. Reed finds Darcy refreshing in her honesty and forthrightness and appreciates her ability to give as good as she gets. She’s nothing like the type of woman he’s dated before, with her tattoos and piercings and casual approach to life. Their banter is fun and flirty and leads to some sexy scenes where Reed proves his prowess isn’t exaggerated. But Darcy is under no illusion that a steamy affair with this committed bachelor will last for long.
As the story progresses we learn a little bit more about Reed’s rocky relationship with his father and why he’s wary of getting too deep into a relationship. We also find out that Darcy has her own complicated history with her family, including a stepfather with whom she doesn’t get along, a judgmental mother who sees Darcy’s body modifications as a personal affront, and a half-sister who by comparison, can do no wrong. When Darcy finds herself confiding in Reed about her family issues, and Reed shares his worries about his father, it cements their growing friendship and emotional connection. Eventually they both have to decide whether what they’re building is worth pursuing when the fundraiser is successfully completed. Along the way, Reed also makes some surprising findings about the origins of the dating app that have caused him so much grief. Bad Bachelor is more than just a fun and sexy romantic comedy. It’s got a depth of emotion and heart that make it a thoroughly entertaining and thought provoking read.
Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Apple Books/Kobo