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Suddenly a Family by Leann Harris
(Sil. Int. Mom #912, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07912-5
**
When Susan Knight divorced her husband Zachary, she hated him so much that she did not tell him she was pregnant. Nearly five years later, a social worker calls to tell Zack that his ex-wife has been killed in a car accident and they are holding his twin daughters for him to pick up.

Zack, a former member of the Special Forces, is in charge of security for Anderson Oil. He's savvy about a lot of things, but rearing four-year-old twin girls is not among them. However, he is intense about accepting responsibility, and since he was abandoned as a child…well, you can guess the rest.

After returning home with Lisa and Lori, Zack immediately heads for his office where he intends to rely upon his secretary's parenting expertise. She is out sick, but when Toni Anderson strolls down the hall en route to see her father, the company president, Zack quickly enlists her help. Toni tumbles into love with the children.

Toni is willingly drawn into their lives, and divides her time between teaching at a nearby college and giving Zach housekeeping lessons. He is making progress when his former sister-in-law notifies him that she is seeking custody of the children, and an attorney tells him that "a married father would play better to the court." So Zack offers a marriage of convenience to Toni.

I was never certain the quid pro quo approached equality since on its face all Toni was getting out of this was to stop her father from matchmaking. Their relationship is quickly strained by demands upon his time, as murders keep occurring in the oil fields he was hired to protect. The mystery surrounding these crimes is so easily unraveled with Toni's help, that one is left wondering why it took a security expert to do so.

On the personal side, Zack starts falling for Toni – although his tortured complex of "nobody ever loved me or will ever love me" gets a bit old. Toni is falling as well, but she is wise and does everything just right.

While offering nothing original in the marriage of convenience romance plot, there is a bright spot in Suddenly a Family in the interaction between Toni and the precocious twins. Although the dialogue in places is uneven and sometimes melodramatic, the growth of the family unit may appeal to some readers.

If this is not enough for you, scroll down through another review before you go shopping.

--Thea Davis


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