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The Thing About Men    by Elizabeth Bevarly order for
Thing About Men
by Elizabeth Bevarly
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Claire Willoughby loves her hectic and fulfilling life as the star of hit TV show Simple Pleasures. In it she makes everything - from roasting a country chicken to stitching trendy pillows from old stuff lying around the house - look incredibly easy. But if the world knew the real truth about Claire they'd be shocked and her empire would collapse like a wet house of cards. Claire's close friend, Olive Tully, is the true powerhouse behind the Simple Pleasures concept dreamed up during their college years. Due to her own severe shyness, Olive convinced Claire to be the perfect, poised hostess for Simple Pleasures. Studio execs agreed and they've been a mega-successful team ever since. Theirs is a perfect and organized world -- until the day the show's Number One Fan wills Claire her infant daughter.

Claire can't come to grips with Eleanor Sage's final wishes. But once she learns about the young single mother's hard life and the tragic circumstances of her death, Claire decides to honor Eleanor's request. Olive always knows exactly what to do -- certainly they'll convince suspicious social worker Davis Webster that they're the ideal surrogate parents for precocious Anabel. What no one counts on is the unexpected arrival of Anabel's Uncle Ramsey. One look at the scruffy, beat up biker dude assures Claire that little Anabel would be much better off with her. But 'Uncle Ramsey' takes exception (he is family after all) and warns that he'll take the matter to court if he and Claire can't reach a workable compromise.

Over the next few weeks as she and Ramsey take turns caring for Anabel, they get to know each other as well. Admittedly the man cleaned up very well and Anabel adores the time she spends with her uncle. But Claire still has trepidations, particularly about the many secrets Ramsey keeps about himself and his line of work. Despite these misgivings and her own mental warnings she finds herself uncontrollably attracted to the man, even on his worst days! Ramsey too, quickly realises that Claire, Anabel and a stable home life are what he wants, and maybe what he's wanted all his life. But he knows that revealing too much about his past could ruin any sort of future with Claire and Anabel.

The Thing About Men is a well written, thoughtful, breezy and often funny story. It had me hooked from the first page where a horrified Claire learns that the chicken she's supposed to cook on the show is still alive! Claire and Ramsey are well rounded, likeable characters whose differences are complementary and whose sexual attraction sizzles -- although I did wonder why Ramsey took so long to talk to Claire about his past. There's also an intriguing secondary romance between shy Olive and outgoing social worker Davis Webster that could have led to a great sequel. I was disappointed that the author sped through their story and solved their various issues, some of them quite complex, much too hastily.

Overall though, I enjoyed The Thing About Men, and plan to add Elizabeth Beverly's next release to my future reading list.

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