Three die-hard bachelors with issues meet their matches in the publishing titan’s latest fairy tale, her third this year (Miracle, June 2005, etc.).
Longtime friends Charlie, Adam and Gray have only the vaguest notions that their single-by-choice lifestyle might not be as great as it seems. To be fair, any misgivings seem tiny in comparison to the splendor of blueblood Charlie’s yacht, where the guys have assembled for their annual August Mediterranean jaunt. They drink, dance and flirt their way through charmed locations, secure in the knowledge that even if they end up alone, they still have each other. These free agents are not really unrepentant cads, though, so much as neurotic New Yorkers, and facing their commitment phobias is what propels the love stories forward. Charlie is a rich philanthropist who claims to want marriage but cannot stop fixating on the “fatal flaw” he discovers in each new girlfriend. Adam is a bitter, divorced entertainment lawyer who limits himself to short affairs with gold-digging 20-year-old bimbos, and sensitive painter Gray is a psycho-chick magnet repeatedly drawn to—and dumped by—damaged women he hopes to save. It is during a stop in Portofino that Gray meets Sylvia, a warm, successful (and resolutely sane) gallery owner, signaling a possible end to the happy brotherhood. Back in New York, Charlie befriends Carole, a self-righteous social worker uncomfortable with his vast wealth. Hedonistic Adam gets his life turned upside down by a sweet waitress with a secret life whom he meets at a client’s rock concert. Their various relationships take different routes, but all arrive at the same destination. It is love, sweet love, that changes these big ’ol scaredy cats into happy husbands. Steel’s massive fan base is unlikely to quibble, but the author displays a stunning tendency to repeat a point four or more times when once would have been sufficient.
By-the-numbers romance, with pop psychology overtones.