He Could Be the One
Although I’ve been hearing about Elizabeth Bevarly for years now, this is the first time I’ve gotten around to trying one of her books. I found it to be the perfect example of a mixed bag. The biggest distraction for me was the prose style, but the hit-and-miss humor also made the book an uneven read.
Wyatt Culver is more than a little nervous when he’s called to Santa Barbara to serve as a bodyguard to Eve Van Dormer. He hasn’t seen Eve since prom night of 1981, when they parted under circumstances that were far from ideal. But Eve’s father has received threats to both Eve and her twin sister Simone, so he hires Wyatt to be her bodyguard in Cincinnati during their twenty year high school reunion. He arrives in California hoping he’ll be able to put the past behind him.
Eve is shocked to find Wyatt in her father’s study, and she quickly decides that they spark they had in high school is still there. Eve is just coming off a difficult divorce after her long marriage to a controlling older man, so she’s pretty leery of men in general and Wyatt in particular. Though she vows to head to Cincinnati under her own steam, she and Wyatt end up driving across the country together. At first, Wyatt mostly wants Eve to get her spirit back and learn to live again, but as they spend time together, he begins to feel like he and Eve were always destined to be together. Eve feels insecure about herself and Wyatt’s feelings for her, mostly because of things that happened twenty years ago. But she too finds herself falling in love quickly. Meanwhile, there is also subplot involving Eve’s sister Simone and Wyatt’s partner Julian (who is serving as her bodyguard). Julian and Simone fly to Ohio and are none too fond of each other at first, mostly because Simone has old business with her high school crush. But they too have trouble ignoring the chemistry between them.
He Could Be the One strives for a lively, humorous tone, and it succeeds about half the time. There are some truly funny moments, including an amusing scene where Eve and Wyatt crash another high school’s reunion. Bevarly also has 1980s music serve as a running backdrop as Eve and Wyatt cross the country. This was a cute touch, but it didn’t quite make sense to me since they graduated in 1981 and almost all the songs they listened to came out after that.
Much of the humor is intended to be derived from the characters’ thoughts and internal monologues, but this is just where the book fell flat for me – most of it just came down to the writing style, which is very colloquial. It made the humor seem forced and distracting rather than funny. But humor is so subjective; this is definitely one of those times when personal taste really comes into play. My hunch is that readers who have enjoyed Bevarly’s style in the past would likely find it amusing here as well.
I found it difficult to connect with these characters, especially at first. Part of the problem is that none of them seemed to have done much with their lives for the twenty years; it would have really made more sense to make them twenty-seven or twenty-eight and going to their ten year reunion instead. Fortunately the characters become a little more interesting towards the end of the book. This is particularly true of Julian, whom I found more compelling than the hero.
All in all, this is a classic C read: sometimes boring, occasionally interesting; sometimes funny and sometimes not. This isn’t one I would go out of my way to read, unless you are a big Bevarly fan. And a note to Bevarly and the Avon copy editors: The University in Santa Barbara is not USC Santa Barbara; it’s UC Santa Barbara. I don’t know whose fault that was, but it annoyed this UCSB alumna.
I've been at AAR since dinosaurs roamed the Internet. I've been a Reviewer, Reviews Editor, Managing Editor, Publisher, and Blogger. Oh, and Advertising Corodinator. Right now I'm taking a step back to concentrate on kids, new husband, and new job in law...but I'll still keep my toe in the romance waters.