A newly widowed Australian doctor finds himself caught between the demands of raising his infant daughter and those of the dating world in Earls's breezy but thoughtful romance. Dating proves far more difficult than child-rearing for Jon Marshall, the laser surgeon whose wife dies during childbirth. He quickly sinks a budding romance with Katie, a friend of his office manager, in a series of hysterical scenes in which Jon has some unseemly accidents with Katie's unfortunate cat. Things get a bit more serious when the 30-ish Jon befriends an attractive college student named Ashley: they start out as running buddies, but their relationship slowly blossoms into something more serious. The most intriguing subplot involves Jon's internal wrestling match with the legacy of his marriage, which had been problematic before his wife's death. He finds he must come to terms with his old relationship before he can make a go of it with his college-age partner. Earls spends far too much time dissecting Jon's social life in the context of '80s rock music, and while he writes touchingly about the joys of being a young single parent, he conveniently glosses over most of the nightmares. He earns kudos, however, for steering his would-be lovers away from a formulaic happy ending, though the feel-good resolution will still satisfy dedicated romantics. Dating can be daunting at any age, but Earls paints the battle of the sexes as a friendly duel with plenty of promising common ground, and readers should enjoy this amiable, well-crafted and genuinely romantic book. (Oct. 24) Forecast: A bestseller Down Under, Earls could be embraced here as the Aussie Nick Hornby, but it will take some good reviews and even better marketing. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Perfect Skin's main character is Jon Marshall from Bachelor Kisses, but he may as well be the same character as appears in most of Nick Earls' fiction. This is by no means a criticism, to many of Earls' readers this guy will by now feel like a familiar friend - a hapless bloke with quirky conversational skills, a knack for finding himself in embarrassing situations through no fault of his own, and the ability to make the reader laugh and laugh and laugh. And laugh I did. Especially when Jon finds himself accidentally urinating on the pampered cat of a woman who is trying to seduce him (when it comes to this sort of thing, I really would like to know the answer to the cliched question `where do you get your ideas?). But Perfect Skin has a more serious side. Jon, now in his mid-thirties and a partner in a laser surgery practice, has both a baby and major loss in his life to contend with. Friends and family are quietly but crucially important to him, and, of course, there is the possibility of new love. Earls' work here is nicely subtle, and the combination of light and dark makes this a book to recommend to anyone who wants to be entertained without having their intelligence insulted. Lorien Kaye is the editor of Australian Bookseller & Publisher. C. 2000 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors