Sweeping the Bride Away
by Michele Dunaway
(Harl. American #963, $4.75, PG-13) 0-373-16963-9
**
An irritating mother whose performance is way out of line is just one of the problems with this less than satisfying romance. Her son is a cipher and engaged to the heroine. The heroine lets both of them push her around. The hero's best friend is always working the angles and talks the hero into deceiving the heroine in a way that makes no sense at all. Not a promising start.

Cassidy Clayton is in her late-twenties and engaged to Dan, the boy who lives next door. Her parents recently divorced, causing scandal in their upper class neighborhood. They have both taken off for other parts of the country, leaving Cassidy to sell the family home. The day the inspector arrives to assess the house for fitness before the sale, Lillian, her future mother-in-law, is there to torment him. He responds by citing pages of small details that have to be repaired before the closing of the house in two weeks.

Frustrated by the damage Lillian's mouth has caused, Cassidy is not in the mood when a good-looking guy tries to talk with her while she is waiting for her friend, Sara, at the bar in a restaurant. Blade Frederick is very casually dressed and has a bad boy look. She does mention the inspector's list and before she joins her friend, he gives her a business card telling her that he might be able to fix the problems.

Cassidy is determined not to call him because she is attracted to him, making her feel disloyal to Dan. After hours of calling construction companies, she calls Blade's number and he offers to have the cited problems repaired. Blade is also attracted to Cassidy, but knows that his poor background puts her way out of his league. He plans to send one of his staff to do the repairs until his partner, Jake discovers that Cassidy is the future daughter-in-law to Senator Morris. Since the company they started from scratch is now ranked thirty-third in the nation, Jake wants to move more in the direction of some public buildings requiring more political contacts. Jake's idea is for Blade to go along with Cassidy's supposition that Blade is just a worker and try to make contact with Lillian, hoping to convince her to push for their company with the Senator.

Although Lillian isn't physically present for much of the story, her vibes jangle though it. She orchestrated the engagement and plans to use the wedding to announce a political move for her other son. She has taken over the wedding arrangements, claiming she is helping since Cassidy's mother isn't around. Her son, Dan, just agrees with her or pushes her off on his fiancée. Cassidy allows both Dan and Lillian to plow right through her. I was ready to scream at both Lillian and Cassidy during the scene where Cassidy is trying on wedding dresses and both Lillian and the saleslady just ignore her. Cassidy is supposed to be an up-and-coming image consultant in business for herself. I can't see her succeeding if she is such a wimp.

Blade quickly realizes Cassidy is settling by marrying Dan. Despite his belief that she would never want a long-term relationship with someone with his poor background, he wants to spend more and more time with her. His partner, Jake sees that Blade has fallen for Cassidy and pushes him to pursue that attraction. I could not understand this at all. Why would Jake encourage Blade to seduce Cassidy when he also wants Blade to get Lillian's support? Seducing her future daughter-in-law does not seem the way to an endorsement to me.

I've read other books by Ms. Dunaway and liked them. Her love scenes are romantic and usually her dialogue is witty and quick. These elements are in this book, but her characters do not live up to these standards. By the end, I didn't particularly care what happened to them. By the time Cassidy finally starts to take charge of her life, it was just too little, too late.

--B. Kathy Leitle


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