Rich, Single and Sexy
Stories about incredibly wealthy heroes don’t hold much appeal for me, and I generally tend to avoid them. There’s an exception to every rule though, and Rich, Single and Sexy is the exception to mine. This is a perfectly executed piece of escapist fiction. It’s pure fantasy, a book that invites the reader to step into the world of the rich and powerful and live vicariously for a while. I can’t call it a keeper, but it is something of a comfort read. Warm, sweet and very likable, it’s the kind of book that never fails to deliver exactly what it intends.
Maggie Palmer is a librarian in a small California coastal town. Thankfully, this is not shorthand for “sad, lonely spinster.” No, Maggie is just an ordinary woman living a quiet life. She has a solid, dependable boyfriend, the kind of guy who doesn’t generate any sparks but who feels comfortable. She suspects he’s preparing to propose, and she figures she’ll say yes. Her life is nothing like that of her college roommate Amanda, who married into the insanely rich Pharr clan right after graduation and was swept off into a world of wealth and privilege. Other than the occasional card, Maggie hasn’t heard from Amanda in years. Then her old friend calls and invites her to come share their mutual birthday together at the Pharr family compound on the exclusive Caribbean island of St. Pelan.
Amanda won’t be able to make it for a few days, so she tells Maggie to go ahead without her and enjoy the island until she arrives. When Maggie expresses doubt that she’d fit in among the rich vacationers on the island, Amanda tells her to say she’s one of the Pharrs and no one will question her. It proves to be good advice. Her first night on the island, Maggie wanders onto a private beach and finds a naked man emerging from the ocean. When he angrily confronts her, she tells him she’s a distant Pharr relation. He immediately accepts her as someone who belongs.
Connor McKay is wary of anyone who isn’t part of his social and economic class. The book’s title tells you all you need to know about him. A magazine recently declared him “The Ultimate Catch,” a billionaire businessman with looks, money and power. As a result, women do anything they can to get close to him. After one woman not only infiltrated his home, but turned up half-naked in his bed, Connor escaped to St. Pelan. There he knew he would be among his own kind, people accustomed to wealth and privilege who wouldn’t be impressed by him. He’s immediately intrigued by “Margaret,” the distant Pharr cousin. She’s not only unimpressed, she seems to want nothing to do with him.
When Connor tells her how he’s only comfortable around his own kind, Maggie knows she should avoid him. If he knew the truth about her, he wouldn’t be interested in her at all. But Connor is persistent, and as much as she tries, she can’t resist him.
It probably sounds like a story built for maximum melodrama, with the arrogant hero and the Big Secret you just know is going to lead to anger and tears. Thankfully, it isn’t. This isn’t one of those old-fashioned Harlequin Presents type stories. Instead, it’s a sweet, low-key, and very charming tale that’s everything you wouldn’t expect it to be. There’s not much action or drama, no huge conflict beyond the premise. It’s entirely character-driven, with just enough plot to keep the story moving as the main characters meet, interact, and slowly fall in love.
The characters aren’t deep, or even developed much beyond their surface descriptions. That may actually work to the book’s advantage, allowing the reader to step into these people’s lives and put themselves into the characters’ shoes. They’re both very likable. Connor isn’t as arrogant as he might sound. The author does an excellent job finding the balance where he seems both larger-than-life yet relatable, portraying him as a perfectly reasonable man whose attitudes are justified by his experiences. Through Maggie, Wilson allows readers to feel the wonder of stepping into this rarefied world and experience it for themselves.
Then there’s the big reveal. We’ve all read those books where a character’s deception is revealed, resulting in anger and accusations. That doesn’t happen here. The author deftly avoids the Big Misunderstanding, providing a climax that lets Connor prove he may be “the Ultimate Catch” for reasons that have nothing to do with his looks or his money.
Rich, Single and Sexy isn’t a deep or substantive book by any stretch of the imagination. It’s merely a book that provides a fantasy scenario and delivers on it perfectly, letting the reader luxuriate in an exotic setting and spend some time with characters living lives most of us can only dream about. As much as I like drama and suspense and tortured characters, sometimes a simple, romantic, feel-good read is what’s needed. This is that kind of book.