Desert Isle Keeper
The Bachelor Party
I’m sure that a lot of us remember the first romance book we ever read, especially that one book that changed our minds about the genre and banished the phrase “bodice-ripper” from our vocabularies.
While I never was a romance snob – I was, and I blush to admit it, a series romance snob. For the longest time I thought they were books that little old blue-haired ladies read while under bonnet-style hairdryers. Books that featured poor and plain secretaries who were really beautiful when they took off their glasses and who in the end, got the boss/doctor/lawyer/business tycoon who was old enough to be their father, but a real hot guy nonetheless.
What book changed my mind about series romance? The Bachelor Party by Paula Detmer Riggs. One day, desperate for a new book, I picked this up at the used bookstore because the cover was attractive. I began to read and fell madly in love with the story and the hero – Ford Maguire.
Ford is not a big tycoon – he is a county sheriff. The heroine, Sophie Reynolds is not a secretary – she’s a waitress on the lam. Ford is one of the most tormented men I have ever encountered in a romance novel. He was the son of a very jealous father and a mother who was not a faithful wife. When Ford was a teenager, his father shot his mother and then killed himself – leaving Ford to find the bodies. Ford had to give up his dreams of joining the Air Force to take care of his sister. He has become the sheriff, enjoys his work and does not dwell on his lost dreams too much, but he is a very lonely man.
Sophie married a man from a good family, wished for a home and children, and got abuse – mental and physical – instead. When her husband fell down the stairs in a rage and died, his wealthy family was able to hire a good lawyer and pin the blame on Sophie. Not only that, they wanted to take her infant daughter from her. Sophie ran and has been running ever since.
Even though Sophie is not as memorable a character as Ford, her sweetness and vulnerablity bring out all of his protective instincts and he begins to woo her with fervor. Several of the love scenes are from Ford’s point of view and this lonely man who has always treated sex as a mere easing of his urges finds himself with no private place within himself to withdraw. For her part, Sophie has fallen deeply in love with Ford and suffers anguish about his reaction if and when he finds out she is a fugitive.
Sophie’s growing relationship with the citizens of Clover, South Carolina, is a delight. They embody Southern hospitality at its friendliest and Sophie soon finds herself with surrogate grandmothers and grandfathers and more friends than she has had in a long time. I especially liked the two sweet little old ladies, Miss Fanny and Miss Rose Ruth, who take Sophie under their motherly wings.
I closed The Bachelor Party with my preconceived notions about series romance forever changed. I have since discovered many wonderful authors who write series novels: Ruth Wind, Leanne Banks, Beverly Barton, Lori Foster, Marilyn Pappano, Elizabeth Bevarly – and of course Paula Detmer Riggs.
Current series romance snobs sometimes dismiss them as nothing but cowboy and secret baby books. While there are a lot of those books in this sub-genre, there are also some true gems out there. I was lucky to have found a diamond my first time out.