Can't Buy Me Love
I remember reading Heather MacAllister’s Manhunting In Memphis several years ago,and liking it very much, so I looked forward to Can’t Buy Me Love. It zipped along quickly and featured a hero who was really sweet, most of the time. But that’s it – I couldn’t find much else to praise about it, and plenty that I didn’t like.
Lawyer Alexis O’Hara is tired of her workaholic lifestyle. She longs for a home and hopes to stay at home with her children when they are little, and to practice law at a much slower pace when they are ready for school. Alexis is also tired of the dating game, so when her mentor, the much older Vincent Cathardy, asks her to marry him she says yes.
Alexis and Vincent plan a quick wedding at the romantic inn at Maiden Falls. Since they are attorneys, Vincent wants a pre-nuptual agreement, and the attorney writing it is Dylan Greene, a family law specialist. When they were in law school, Dylan and Alexis were in love, but they broke up and haven’t seen each other in years. When she sees him, it’s apparent that the old feelings are still there for them both, and Alexis begins to wonder if a tepid companionable marriage is really what she wants.
Old lovers getting re-aquainted is a favorite plot of mine, and if Can’t Buy Me Love had stuck with it, I know I would have liked it more. But this book has a paranormal streak running through it. The Maiden Falls Inn, a former brothel, is haunted by the ghosts of the working girls who once worked there. These ghosts are confined to the inn until they bring a couple together, at which point they can go on to that Big Picnic In The Sky. The ghostly hooker who is in charge of Alexis is named Sunshine, who blithers through the book disguised as a maid. Sunshine’s speech and mannerisms are so silly that no one with any sense at all would believe she was a real maid. But Alexis remains clueless.
Alexis is also spineless as well as clueless. She is walking into a marriage with a man whom she finds physically repulsive – Vincent has thin stringy shoulders and gray chest hair. He also is seemingly uninterested in sex. When Alexis gets dressed up in her sexiest negligee and waltzes into his room, he’s too busy with computer, fax and phone to notice her and when she sits in his lap and wriggles around, she gets no reaction at all. But she’s still determined to marry him.
Dylan is pleasant and a man who can balance work and a life. Unlike Vincent and Alexis, Dylan is able to take some time off. So he isn’t mega-maxim-rich, but he is comfortable and happy with his work. He’s not burnt out, and still has a romantic streak. We get a bit of his background, which was interesting enough that I would like to have had more. However, toward the end of the book, Dylan flies off the handle and acts in a manner totally inconsistent with how he has acted all thorough the rest of the book. This was done only to provide conflict, and it was silly and not at all necessary.
I gave this a warm rating, but there is only one love scene that with very little description. It’s actually on the border between subtle and warm.
There are other ghosts of working girls still floating around the Maiden Falls Inn, and this looks like the first book in a series. But a poorly written heroine, a changeling for a hero, and the silly ghost-hooker sub-plot didn’t do it for me. If a room at the Inn was the only one available, I’d get back in my car and drive elsewhere.