Sometimes I think I need to stop reading old Harlequins I get from the 3 for $1 shelf at my local used bookstore. These twenty-year-old books won’t help me become familiar with the current product trends. But they’re 3 for $1! If I drop them in the tub (where I love to soak and read), it’s no loss, they are even easier on the budget than the 99 cents eBooks, and it supports the store. And some of the authors are still at work.
Kristine Rolofson, author of Plain Jane’s Man, wrote it in 1994. At that point she’d been writing for Harlequin for eight years, and her most recent publication is a contribution to Winter Wedding Bells in 2015. Her Harlequin bio contains plot elements fit for a romance (married at 18 to her high-school teacher, started writing when the Mount St. Helen’s explosion closed the road to her gift shop) as well as reminders about the work of writing: She spent five years studying over 200 romances before she was able to sell one.
Plain Jane’s Man is from the Temptation line (1984-2005). This line featured relatively ordinary people, in relatively ordinary relationships, including sex. The slightly hotter version of these, Blaze, eventually replaced Temptation. I like the heat level here – attraction, a period of sexual tension, and eventually sex as a comfortable part of the relationship.
Comfortable describes the whole story. It starts with an organic meet cute, and the couple date for a several weeks. She lives in an idyllic small town, and he’s there on business. That business involves her, and her eventual reaction to learning about it is the only significant complication, but it’s enough to drive the plot as the intensity of their relationship and his business increase. Rolofson cheats a little in developing and resolving that complication, but only enough that one feels amused (and faintly touched), not robbed.
Jane is not particularly plain, but she’s divorced and reluctant to get into another relationship. She works hard, and while not wealthy, she doesn’t need rescuing or saving. I like the independence, but she lacks any goals for herself. Neither she nor Peter have to give anything up to be together – which is comfortable, if unrealistic.
The stakes are low, and the passion is quiet, while nothing about this story particularly excited me, nothing annoyed me either. There was enough passion to make this a comfortable read for a few tub soaks.