If I Can't Have You

Looking For a Hero

Till The End of Time

Wife For a Day

Bride for a Night by Patti Berg
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-380-80763-X
Five years before the beginning of Bride for a Night, twenty-one year old Cairo McIntyre married Duncan Kincaid. She had loved him since she was fifteen and he was her archeologist parents’ graduate assistant. The seven year difference in their ages had kept Duncan from acting on his love for Cairo, but the moment she reached her majority, he whisked her off to Las Vegas. Then, the next morning, he whisked himself off on one of his adventures. When Cairo didn’t hear from him for weeks thereafter, she got an annulment. Now she has tracked Duncan down to his latest archeological dig. The two have unfinished business; he’s four years old and his name is Dylan.

Yes, my friends, this is a “secret baby” book.

I know this plot is immensely popular with many romance readers and I know that, at times, I have enjoyed this storyline myself. But for some reason, Berg’s version didn’t resonate with me, didn’t quite work.

Cairo tells Duncan that she has searched him out because she needs his help with her tour business. In fact, she has concluded that super-bright Dylan needs a father and she is trying to discover whether Duncan has become responsible enough to play that role.

It becomes immediately clear that neither Cairo nor Duncan have gotten over their love for each other. They spar, they argue, and they make love. Can they start over again? But there is the little problem that Cairo has failed to tell Duncan that he is a father looming over their rediscovery of love.

I think that what kept me from fully enjoying Bride for a Night was its predictability. I just kept waiting for that familiar scene when Duncan would discover Dylan’s existence before Cairo gets around to ‘fessing up. I just knew how he would respond and how she would react. And I must admit that I got annoyed with Cairo as she kept putting off the inevitable.

In fact, I spent too much of the book annoyed with Cairo. Yes, Duncan did a really despicable thing when he disappeared the morning after their marriage, but his lengthy absence wasn’t all his fault. Yes, the author gave Cairo a personal reason for wondering about Duncan’s suitability as a parent; her own archeology-obsessed parents had certainly failed her. But I just couldn’t muster much sympathy for her position and thus, didn’t feel much sympathy for her.

Actually, I enjoyed the secondary romance between Cairo’s Aunt Phoebe and Duncan’s father Graham more than the primary romance. Phoebe is an ex-hippy and artist who has never found true love, although she has had plenty of love. Graham is a widower who lost both his wife and his ability to walk in an accident several years earlier. The uninhibited Phoebe is just what Graham needs to jump start his life. They make a great pair.

Berg sets her story against the backdrop of Duncan’s search for a legendary “city of gold” in the mountains of Montana. This aspect of the story had more in common with “Indiana Jones” than with real archeological exploration in its improbability, but it does add excitement to the book.

All in all, I find that I cannot recommend Bride for a Night. There was nothing that set it apart from other “secret baby” books.

--Jean Mason

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