Sweeping the Bride Away

Unwrapping Mr. Wright

Legally Tender
by Michele Dunaway
(Harl. American #1100, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0373-75104-4
Legally Tender pairs a couple of lawyers and features the man coming to the idea of love and marriage much faster than the woman. In fact, the woman has been burned before and has a daughter, hence she is reticent and the one holding things up. But the tale doesn’t offer much new with the end result being a merely acceptable tale.

Christina Jones is a Hispanic woman divorced from a narcissistic pro football player. He also cheated and couldn’t seem to find anything wrong with that. So she gave up money and glamour and is determined to make it on her own. Due to the divorce settlement she has to live within 75 miles of Cincinnati, so she moves to Morrisville Indiana, and joins the law firm of Lancaster and Morris as a full partner. They are looking to diversify and they need someone who can speak Spanish due to a growing Hispanic population.

Bruce Lancaster is a great attorney, a volunteer firefighter and an all around good guy. He just happens to be slightly angry because instead of being added as a full partner (his due as one of the heirs) he is now a junior partner working for Christina on a very important case. The firm, i.e. Bruce has filed a petition with the EEOC against the Morrisville Garment factory on behalf of a large number of their Hispanic employees which will lead to a class action lawsuit if it is not settled.

Bruce and Christina meet and the sparks fly. Both feel the attraction, but there are too many undercurrents to consider it becoming sexual, and neither is thrilled that the attraction is even there. The tale follows them as they work on the case, get to know each other and fight their attraction. Christina wants to prove her independence and doesn’t want to be just another wife. Bruce has been looking for a woman like Christina but is willing to give her time to get used to the idea. They try to hide their relationship, which never works out quite like the couple wants it to.

There is no new ground here. Bruce recognizes Christina’s competence and commitment both to the case and to her eight-year-old daughter Bella. Christina recognizes Bruce’s skills and his caring ways, which are in sharp contract to her ex. Bella is a fairly normal child with only a hint of precocious behavior. The other cast members are minor and play specific roles towards building the romance and pushing the relationship.

The tale is character-driven. The lawsuit, which could have provided some interesting scenarios and conflicts, is really just a background story. This was a bit of a disappointment especially since there is an acknowledgement in the front of the book about the seriousness of sexual and employment harassment. Firefighting is also a secondary highlight, and it too received rather cursory attention.

Overall, Legally Tender is a nice little romance, but there are a lot of nice little stories out there and this one has nothing special to set it apart from the norm.

--Shirley Lyons

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