Best of Both Worlds

Journey of the Heart

A Mother’s Reflection

The Marriage Act
by Elissa Ambrose
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1646, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-24646-3
There is nothing more aggravating in a book than one that does not end, one that has an inane plot and two characters that a reader cannot embrace. This story has all three.

The Marriage Act is the story of Tyler Carlton, illegitimate son of Walter Parks, the patriarch of the Parks Empire. Apparently Walter had an illicit affair with Tyler's mother, resulting in twin sons. Tyler was raised by Jeremy Carlton, who worked for Walter, and it wasn't until his death that the truth of his birth was discovered. Now the Parks family wants to welcome Tyler and his brother Conrad into the fold. But Tyler has a deep seated hatred for Walter, and in fact, is using his job as a police detective to try to have Walter arrested for embezzlement and a possible murder. This whole plotline did not make complete sense. It appears that this series is a continuing storyline from book to book, so those readers who have read the previous entries may follow this more easily than I did.

Linda Mailer is Walter's accountant of five years. The previous accountant died and may have been involved in the embezzling scheme. Linda feels a lot of loyalty to Walter. Her mother was killed when she was younger by a young man who threatened Linda at the trial. When he was about to be released from prison, Walter helped to get him convicted of another crime so that he remained in jail. Linda, who is a shy retiring CPA and is scared of life, is grateful to Walter for taking care of her. She feels like he is the father figure she never knew.

One night, two months ago, Linda's friend convinced her to dress in a seductive manner, use a fake name and go out on the town to celebrate her birthday. She picked up a man and they had hot, energetic sex. Now she discovers she is pregnant and that the man she met under the name Lyla is not the Thomas Mann who she was introduced to – but is Tyler Carlton. Tyler was undercover that night on another case, and didn't want to break his cover. He didn't know who “Lyla” was but she has haunted him ever since. When they meet by accident, Linda faints. Tyler carries her off and discovers she is pregnant. The next day, Tyler proposes. He decides he will not let any child of his grow up without his real father.

It is absolutely ridiculous that an author would think a reader would buy this stuff – but it is the way the story was written. The rest of the tale involves the two of them arguing over whether they should marry, then how they will act with each other once they do marry. In the mix of all this is Tyler's hatred of Walter, Linda's determination to prove that Walter is innocent and the question of what Walter is or is not involved in. Frankly, I didn't care about any of the above.

Linda is a wimp and scared of being alone. She is dependent first on her friend, then Walter and now Tyler. When she does try to stand on her own two feet, she puts herself in danger and does things that no one who is such a wimp would do. Tyler is sexy and charming, but he is almost overbearing in his efforts to get his way. He is determined to get revenge against Walter but his hatred seems a little too extreme. Again, if I knew all the background from all the other stories his reactions might be more realistic.

The last thing on my list of aggravations about this story is that it doesn't end. It leaves the reader hanging, literally in the middle of a scene with the caveat to find the ending in the next book in the series. While the romance comes to resolution in one sense, it can not really be resolved until the whole plotline with Walter is done. And that is the part that is continued.

If readers have been reading the Parks Empire Series, this may fit right in. But for a story that makes sense and is engaging and entertaining, my suggestion is to avoid The Marriage Act like the plague and look elsewhere.

--Shirley Lyons

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