Niqui Stanhope, Author . St. Martin's $6.50 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-98623-0

When Marcel Templeton's boyfriend breaks up with her instead of proposing marriage, she and her friend Tracy sit down to reassess her dating game plan. The new "rules" they devise, which include "must not be a player" and "no good-looking men," aren't exactly ambitious, yet the first new man Marcel meets violates both of the above. Or, so she thinks. Hunky Ian Michaels meets Marcel in a fender bender and immediately asks her out, making her assume that he is exactly the kind of "player" her rules demand she avoid. In truth, Ian is a stable and highly successful businessman, and he's a dad looking for a permanent woman in his life. His thoughtful courting of Marcel, from bringing flowers to mowing her lawn, begins to thaw her distrust, but their relationship hits a snag when it turns out that his conglomerate is the hostile buyer trying to take over the magazine she inherited from her dad. Driven largely by conflicts arising from misconceptions and hapless snafus, Stanhope's latest (after Hopelessly Devoted) is old-fashioned pulp romance with a hip urban attitude. Though the plot is filled with inconsistencies, the story's steamy sexual tension and exuberant energy help distract from such details. (Oct.)

Forecast:Fans of Stanhope's African-American romances may do a double-take when they see this book, which sports a sly cover image of a young woman who's not distinctly African-American. Though it's never stated explicitly in the text and visualized only subtly on the cover, this is an African-American romance, and the ambiguousness of the chick-lit cover may keep it from finding its target readership.

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4668-6210-4
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