A Daughter's Place

The Fourth Child

A Convenient Proposal by C.J. Carmichael
(Harl. Super. #1044, $4.99, PG-130 ISBN 0-373-71044-5
Marriage of convenience stories are immensely popular with romance readers, this particular reader included. However, contemporary marriage of convenience tales can be problematic. There have to be good and sufficient reasons for the couple to enter into this kind of arrangement and such reasons are rare in todayís world. C.J. Carmichael has provided such a motive here, but even so, there remains a certain degree of improbability about the premise.

Kelly Shannon is an officer in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Two months before the story begins she had been forced to shoot Danny Mizzoni who had been threatening her sister Cathleen. While her colleagues had assured her that the shooting was justified, she has been temporarily suspended from her duties while the necessary investigation that follows any such killing takes place. She is having a hard time with the guilt she feels about taking the young manís life.

Kelly feels particularly bad for Dannyís two children, Billy age six and Amanda age three. Since her husbandís death, their mother Rachel has returned to heavy drinking and the kids are being neglected. Kelly knows, because she spends hours in front of their little house watching them.

Their uncle, Mick Mizzoni, is also concerned about Billy and Amanda. Danny was his younger half-brother. Their mother was the town loose woman, but while Mick found a mentor who helped him escape his dreadful beginnings. Danny did not escape. Mick is the editor of the local paper, respected by his neighbors but carrying a lot of baggage.

As a bachelor, Mick feels he canít care for his niece and nephew so he begins a courtship of the local kindergarten teacher. Then Kelly comes to him with a surprising proposition, that they marry and provide a stable home for the orphaned children. A desperate Mick accepts the deal.

The rest of the story is a nicely done ďfalling in love after the factĒ tale complicated by the problems with the childrenís mother who tries to regain custody but canít get her life back on track. If the difficulties are overcome a little too patly, well itís nice to think that some mistreated kids have a happy ending.

The hero and heroine are well done. Kellyís distress in the wake of killing a man and her desire to at least protect his children rings true. Mickís own insecurities are not overdone but completely understandable. These are nice people trying to do the right thing.

A Convenient Proposal is the second in a three book series about nefarious doings in the small town of Canmore near Calgary and Lake Louise in Canada. The three Shannon sisters are the heroines of the series. Not having read the first book, I can say that Carmichael does a decent job of bringing the uninitiated reader up to speed. I was interested enough to search out the first installment and expect to look for the finale.

One of the strengths of Carmichaelís books is her recreation of small town Canada, a country both similar to and different from the United States. She also creates likable characters who face real dilemmas. What keeps me from recommending A Convenient Proposal are the niggling doubts I have about the premise. I guess I find it hard to accept that Mick would have so readily married the woman who killed his brother, however justifiable the act may have been. These doubts kept interfering with my enjoyment of the story. Still, when all is said and done, A Convenient Proposal is a very acceptable category romance.

--Jean Mason

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