Victoria Pade’s Celebrity Bachelor, from 2006, is number four of eighteen in her series called Northbridge Nuptials. Northbridge is a typical quaint small old-fashioned town, a setting apparently very popular for romance authors. The tag line for the series is the slightly ominous “Where a walk down the aisle is never far behind.” After this story, I almost want to yell out “Run – it’s coming for you!”
Cassie is a home grown girl-next-door native of this town, who graduated from the local college (enrollment 237 students) with a Master’s Degree, and now works there as an advisor. That she could afford such a school, and that it would offer a Master’s program, requires a little suspension of disbelief, along with suspending the expectation that there is going to be much realism in this story.
Joshua is a self-made millionaire businessman/celebrity, young and handsome, who looks after his younger sister. To avoid paparazzi, his sister is enrolled at Northbridge’s college under a false name, and when he comes to visit he is in disguise. His VIP status is known to a few town officials, and they are eager to have him support local causes, so they ask Cassie to escort him during his visit and make him feel welcome. She is happy to oblige, and he is happy to have an “old friend” cover story to distract folks from noticing him with his sister. Two young singles spending time together has the expected result.
Cassie and Joshua both have exes who could not handle the others’ lifestyle and background, so they are both cautious of another relationship, but Cassie is hesitant to the point of absurdity. Our couple are at second base, heading for the bedroom, when she thinks of her sheets.
Not that they weren’t clean, because they were. … But she had no idea what their thread count was when Brandon had been introduced to them and complained that they weren’t good enough. … Joshua would hate her sheets as much as Brandon had. And eventually he could hate her, too. Just as Brandon had. ‘This can’t happen,’ she said.
It has already been established that Brandon was a jerk, but apparently Joshua is not that exciting if she is thinking about her sheets while making out. And who doesn’t know their thread count? Not that thread count is the only consideration…whenever I climb into bed with a new lover, I also note the fabric blend, colour, and pattern – but usually not until the following morning. I’d never complain, even if they weren’t to my taste, thanks to good manners and a sense of perspective. They’re just sheets. Flannel is nice, though…but I digress.
A couple of days later Cassie overcomes her fear of revealing her sheets, and mind-blowing sex ensues, because that is the kind of sex you have when you are nervous and with a new partner and apologizing for your sheets. By then I was wishing he would dump her and find someone a little more confident. She has been completely unable to understand that Joshua is not the same person as her ex, despite multiple proofs of his decency. Meanwhile she has done nothing to show him that she can comfortable with his lifestyle. He may be down to earth, but he is still very, very, rich and much in the public eye.
Being a romance, it all somehow works out. Pade efficiently hits all the plot structure beats, starting with the complete set up in just one and a half pages. It helps that Cassie turns out to have no real attachment to idyllic Northbridge or her job. All she wants is to be with her man. I can’t see it lasting.