Code Name: Cowboy

Man on a Mission

Natural Born Protector

Once Forbidden

Out of Exile

The Perfect Family

Rodeo Dad

Rules of Engagement

Safety in Numbers

Strangers When We Married

5 Minutes to Marriage
by Cara Cassidy
(SRS #1576, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-27676-2
The copyright page thanks Carla Cassidy for this contribution to SRS's "Love in 60 Seconds" series, so the reader should be alerted to the fact that this is probably a series involving members of some large family with diverse problems. It is probably the Harold Rothschild family as throughout the book people are mentioned that suggest the reader should be acquainted with them. However, very little back story is provided, other than reference to the mysterious Quetzal diamond ring.

This story opens with Jack Cortland, exhausted from trying to cope with his two sons, four year old Mick and three year old David. Custody has recently been awarded him as a consequence of the murder of his ex-wife. He has few if any parenting skills which is very quickly revealed in the opening chapter at a disastrous meal when he had hosts Heidi Gray, a woman he had recently met.

Jack has inherited the ranch where they are living, and is reinventing himself after a checkered past. He and his friend Kent had started a band in high school, but it was Jack who hit the big time, leaving Keith and his home town he thought for good. Married to Candace Rothschild they quickly attained journalist infamy with their mutual abuse of drugs and alcohol so Jack was involved very little with his children even when they were still married.

Now Jack is trying to rear them on his own, living under the cloud that Harold will fight him for custody, armed with the threat of a DNA test that both of the boys might not even be his. He is discussing this with Kent who suggests the  nanny, Marisa Perez, as someone who might be of help.

Jack contacts her and she arrives for an interview. She is in reality a "troubleshooting nanny" who is willing to commit only enough time to turn things around by teaching Jack how to discipline and control his sons. She is saving to start her own business, that of a nanny service so she contracts for a two month hire.

While Marisa is teaching Jack, the predictable attraction turns to lust. It is more of a problem for Marisa since she is balancing the reputation of the infamous Jack Cortland with the safe and boring Patrick Moore she has been dating.

As usual Cassidy's characters are well developed although not very complex in this story. The basic plot line is a very familiar one, but the ease and speed with which she turns around the children's conduct is perhaps the least credible part of the story. A masked intruder that Maria discovers adds the final threat to their harmonious existence and provides Harold the weapon of an unsafe environment which he threatens to use.

Secondary characters provide much of the action, but since they are thinly drawn characters, their contributions seems to be well out of proportion to their importance. This author has fashioned much finer books than this one, but perhaps it was the constraints of conforming to a developing series.

--Thea Davis

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