Married by June
by Ellen Hartman
(Harl. Super #1711, $5.50, PG) ISBN 978-0373-71711-8
**
Jorie Burke is a wedding planner and while she performs miracles for others, her own romance and happy ever after is less than amazing. She dates and falls for Cooper Murphy, the brother and speechwriter for a Senator. Cooper seems to be everything she wants and she and he convince themselves that marriage is in their future. But the closer to the event, the more cold feet Cooper gets and even Jorie hides from her feelings. On the day they are to pick out their wedding cake (red velvet is the anticipated choice), Cooper breaks the engagement. On the evening of the tasting, he is back on Jorieís doorstep, asking her to reconsider.

Cooperís brother Bailey had a damaging affair and is ready to divorce his wife to marry his pregnant mistress. Needless to say, that is quite a scandal for an up and coming Senator. To top it off, Cooperís father used to be the Senator and there is an expectation that a Murphy be a Senator for years to come. So to avoid a total disaster, the plan is launched that the Governor will appoint Cooper to the Senatorís seat when Bailey resigns.

This will open the way for Cooperís cousin, who is the heir apparent to the Senatorís seat, to become of an age that will allow him to run for the office during the next election. But part of the plan is that Cooper has to be an engaged man, because that is what the world thinks he is. Breaking off his engagement now just is not in the cards.

Jorie reluctantly agrees to the ďengagement of convenienceĒ for reasons of her own. First, she canít believe she and Cooper arenít really compatible. Second, how can she sell her services, if she canít even control her own wedding plans? And finally, she is just so shocked that she goes along with things out of pure panic.

The story is predictable and yet, it is funny, lighthearted and filled with romance. I really liked Cooper. Despite his willingness to fall into his fatherís plans without a lot of argument, he is a good guy. He is caring and determined to talk to Jorie in order to show he respects her, even if he doesnít love her. But then a funny thing happens. The longer he spends time with her having honest and open communication, the more he realizes how great a person she is and the more he starts rethinking his choices.

Jorie is a bit wishy washy and while entertaining, she was not my favorite heroine. At times she wallows in self-pity and this seemed out of place for a woman determined to have her own business and stand on her own two feet. She is difficult to figure out at times and this made her a rather uneven heroine.

Bailey is a great character, realizing that he is unhappy and that the only way to get what he wants is to scandalize his family to get it. This left his ex-wife little and his treatment of her was shabby, at a minimum. But despite that, one has to admire his willingness to forge his own way. The Murphy parents are stereotypical and not very likable. The apparent turn-around of the mother seemed forced and not very believable.

Married by June ultimately delivers but it is a mixed bag. While reading it I was entertained but after a day or so, and when writing the review, it was clear the tale did not stand up to scrutiny beyond a surface reading experience.

--Shirley Lyons


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