Cullen's Bride

Marrying McCabe by Fiona Brand
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1099, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-27169-7
Marrying McCabe is the fourth novel in which Fiona Brand features the wealthy Australian Lombard family. Jake, the eldest child and his fiancée were kidnapped and executed by terrorists years ago. The remaining three children, Gray, Blade and Roma have dealt with this tragedy and the risks that accompany their high profile daily living in their own respective ways.

Roma, the youngest Lombard, and a friend are leaving a movie one night in Sydney when a sniper bullet hits her companion. The crowd dissipates and Roma is left alone trying to staunch the bleeding, even though she remains an open target.

Her companion is safe in the hospital and Roma is off to Auckland, New Zealand, to help a designer friend host a charity ball for cancer research. Mindful of the terrorist threat that has wandered in and out of their lives, together with the latest shooting, her very protective brothers call in a favor from their old Special Forces friend and hire a full time bodyguard for Roma while she is in Auckland.

Ben McCabe is his young daughter’s sole custodial parent and resents having their vacation interrupted by this job. Roma doesn’t want a bodyguard so they do not get off to the most amicable start, although each is strongly attracted to the other.

Was the sniper after Roma or was it a random hit? Brand skillfully builds that plot along with the development of her characters. Although intertwined, the result is the construction of complex, likeable people who work their way through their respective emotional baggage in a realistic but not tedious fashion.

It is also a pleasure to have the author share her sense of New Zealand with the reader, with both place descriptions and local dialogue that are crisp and natural.

Marrying McCabe is primarily a love story, and a steamy sensuous one. Not many relatively new writers can have Linda Howard say on their front cover: “Fiona Brand has become one of my favorite writers.” I agree with Linda Howard.

--Thea Davis

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