Fortune’s Secret Child
by Shawna Delacourt
(Silh. Desire #1324, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76324-7
**
OK, folks, say you are returning to your hometown of Pueblo, NM for the first time in six years. And say you fled from your home because the man you loved, Dr. Shane Fortune, callously broke up with you and broke your heart. And say, after you left (or were driven away), you discovered you were pregnant. And say, you decided not to tell your baby’s father about his existence. Got all that?

Now, just suppose that you run into the matchmaking Kate Fortune at your father’s funeral and suppose she offers you a house to stay in until you can settle your father’s estate and find a place to live. And suppose that while you lie in bed that night, you hear someone downstairs. And suppose that you discover, guess who? You’re right! It’s Dr. Shane Fortune. Turns out Kate has given you the key to your ex-lover’s house, all in the interests of bringing all three of you together at last.

Now, I ask you, if you don’t want Shane to know the truth about your son’s parentage, would you agree to stay in his house? Well, I do believe that only in a romance novel would the above scenario play out. Which is why I recommend that you think twice about pursuing this latest installment of the “Fortune Grooms.”

Fortune’s Secret Child is a standard “secret baby” book, which means it starts out with one strike against it in my mind. That the actions of the heroine make no sense leads to the second strike. That Delacourt never really offers a plausible or compelling explanation for Shane’s actions six years earlier (he really loved Cynthia but he was confused about his competing Native American/Fortune heritages) is the last straw. Well, the really last straw is how long it takes Shane to put two and two together. Can you have four strikes?

As a favor to those who are following the saga about industrial sabotage at the Fortune’s Children’s Hospital building project, let me report that circumstantial evidence has led to the arrest of Riley Fortune (Shane’s brother) for the murder of Mike Dodd and that Mike’s sister Angelica fainted when she heard the news. Which sets us up for the next installment, Husband-or Enemy. Now you can skip this book and go right to the grand finale.

I know there are no new plots and I likewise know that a “secret baby” story can be enjoyable, if the characters’ motivations and behavior are drawn with a deft hand. Unfortunately, such is not the case here. I suggest that you think twice before you pick up this particular entry in the ongoing Fortune saga.

--Jean Mason


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