by Donna Valentino

November 1998
ISBN: 0-553-44626-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

First Class Male by Donna Valentino was a nice light read with some interesting background characters.

Connor Hughes is a loner. After losing his fiancée in a car accident three weeks before their wedding, he'd pretty much sworn off women and relationships. He's immersed himself in his woodcarving and leads a very quiet, simple existence, never making promises to anyone.

To Shelby Ferguson, there's no such thing as a trustworthy man. For years she's watched as the Ferguson women were let down by every man they got close to. Resigned to spinsterhood, she too has sworn off love. After all, what's the point when she has yet to meet a man who keeps his promises?

When Connor and Shelby meet, he's trying to keep the first promise he's made in years - to help his aunt repair her fire-damaged house. Shelby is skeptical but volunteers to help him thinking he'll soon prove himself to be as untrustworthy as every other man she's ever met.

What she learns is that Connor is the one thing she'd never thought she'd find - a good, honest man. And Connor finds himself falling for the cynical female despite his vows to remain alone.

Connor and Shelby quickly realize they've fallen in love but knowing the truth and admitting it are two different things.

This book was a little lopsided. Connor had just as many things to work through as Shelby did and while Shelby came to some pretty significant truths about herself and showed definite change, Connor kind of jumped from hermit to love struck. He never really resolved the feelings he had for his late- fiancée and it was pretty obvious that there was a lot that he should have dealt with.

I would have liked to see Connor realize and admit that what he had felt when Pam had died wasn't loss of his one true love. Also, Ms. Stonesipher, Connor's Aunt, was a fascinating character that could have and should have been utilized more. There were moments in the book where you could almost real affection between Connor and his grouchy old aunt. Unfortunately, that storyline was never really followed up on, and she was kind of left as a lonely old woman, while Connor found his happiness with Shelby.

I would recommend this book to those who have some extra time to while away on a pleasant, but unmemorable story. The main characters are sweet, but, for most of the book, far from compelling. I do however have to commend the author for giving Shelby such character towards the end. I love when a heroine realizes she can be more than she is and takes her fate into her own hands.

Reviewed in October 2001 by JaToya.

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