24 December 2015

Perfect Chance (Harlequin Presents, No. 1826)

Synopsis from back cover: Take a chance on love....

Mary Newman -- her life was safe, predictable and reasonably happy. Until the day he walked in!

Chance Armstrong -- he had no respect for rules and regulations and cozy life-styles. But he was offering Mary the perfect chance for a lot of excitement, and she was tempted -- oh, so tempted....Until Chance offered the most tempting challenge of all...He asked Mary to marry him!

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Harlequin Books, 1996.

How acquired: Book Mooch

First line: Mary paused to lean against the counter of the nurses' station as she surveyed the emergency room in the Newman wing at Memorial Hospital.

My thoughts: I love the older Harlequins. I want to read every single one written. Amanda Carpenter is an author I wasn't familiar with, but when I requested a couple of books from another Book Mooch member, she threw in several Carpenter books. So I picked this one up one night to read at bedtime.

Forty pages in I had already put little sticky flags on three different passages that I wanted to go back to later, and I was already a fan of Ms. Carpenter. She reminds me a little of Lucy Walker. The story is in third person POV, yet it still feels as if Mary is confiding in the reader. The narration is breezy, casual, and at times amusing.
If he was in his late thirties, he could have three or four marriages by now, and any number of kids. Mary could just picture them, blond hair dripping into their sad eyes, wanting their daddy to stop flirting with her and come home to them.

Mary has been dating Victor, another doctor at the hospital, for two years. When Chance meets her, he pursues her, even though he knows about Victor. Mary is torn between the two, yet she continues to see Victor, and doesn't tell him about Chance, even though Victor saw her leave the hospital arm in arm with Chance. Another book, another author, and I might've been put off at a heroine stringing along one man while kissing another. Rather than facing the truth and owning up to her actions and her feelings, Mary ran and hid from confrontation. Literally, in one scene, when Chance comes to the home she shares with her brother and grandfather, and Mary bolts into the house and up to her room to hide from him. But she's young and naive, definitely not worldly, and the confrontations catch up with her, causing her all kinds of anguish.
What kind of a kiss was that anyway? It was the kind that sucked your soul out of your body.
Hey, she wanted to call to the man who'd just left. You forgot to give my soul back.

You can't help but empathize with her and feel for her. What chance (no pun intended) does she have up against a soul sucker?

Chance is a journalist, a war correspondent. He's taken a temporary teaching position at the local college in order to spend some time near his family. He's started thinking about slowing down, settling down. And then he gets a call from a White House source and quickly begins packing to rush to D.C. to cover a conference. And Mary's reaction made me angry. Made me want to shake some sense into her and tell her for Pete's sake, grow up already!

And of course it all worked out in the end, cuz, you know, it's a Harlequin. And the journey from page 1 to page 187 was just absolutely delightful.  

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