Next to Nothing

Out of Order

Marriage Terms by Barbara Dunlop
(Silh. Desire #1741, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0373-76741-2
Marriage Terms is the August entry in the “Elliotts” series. Sadly, there is a lot of the past that impacts the present and this tale clearly leaves out some history. While I enjoyed the storyline of divorced parents getting back together, it was difficult to really understand why these two were so attracted to each other without knowing the past.

Daniel Elliott is a millionaire and has always been a rich kid; thus he acts like it. He was popular in everything he did and could have been anything he wanted. His father, Patrick Elliott, however, wanted him to help run the family business and so, he did. When in college, he had a one night stand with Amanda, a cute girl from the “lower” end of town who was never fully approved by the patriarch. Daniel and Amanda had to get married. They eventually had two sons, Cullen and Bryan, both of whom have been featured in the series. Ten years ago, Amanda and Daniel divorced, partly because they didn’t see eye to eye, partly because of the disapproval Amanda always felt around his family and partly because Daniel’s eyes wandered. Daniel eventually married a woman who was the epitome of the millionaire’s wife – beautiful, fashionably dressed and able to make her way around a cocktail party with the best of them. Unfortunately, she was shallow. Daniel is now divorced from her.

When Bryan (who has been an undercover CIA agent for years) gets hurt and almost dies, Daniel and Amanda see each other again. Daniel is still running a major magazine for his father’s company and Amanda is now a very successful defense attorney for the downtrodden. This actually takes place in the previous book and is alluded to in this one. What we see here is Daniel realizing he has missed Amanda and deciding to begin to pursue her. Amanda has other thoughts, but does recognize she still finds him attractive and actually does still love him.

The tale moves quickly as Daniel plots to find ways to get Amanda to give up her somewhat dangerous career and Amanda trying to avoid his plotting. Eventually they find a way to meet halfway and love is truly rejuvenated.

I enjoyed these two, although Amanda is clearly the more personable. Daniel has some growing up to do and we see him go from a man who is almost mechanical in his actions to a man willing to take a risk and really find out the person he wants to be. He sees Amanda as his muse.

Having read Bryan’s story (Under Deepest Cover) last month, the story flowed for me. But even then, there is some past history that is a tad bit elusive, especially around how Amanda has been treated by the family for years and how they have managed to both have good relationships with their sons, despite the ugly divorce. If I didn’t have this background, I am not sure the tale would have been as much fun.

Overall, it is a quick and sometimes hot read, especially engaging when the two are sparring and trying to figure out their new relationship. It is the relationship that keeps the tale moving and makes Marriage Terms worth your time.

--Shirley Lyons

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