Ever After

 
The Dakota Man by Joan Hohl
(Silh. Desire #1321, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-76321-2
***
Mitch Grainger has just discovered his engagement has been called off. When his fiancée comes in to see him comforting his pregnant secretary she immediately decides he is the father-to-be and throws his ring at him. Mitch refuses to explain she’s wrong, especially since he realizes she never meant that much to him anyhow.

Meanwhile Maggie Reynolds is slashing her wedding dress to pieces. Her fiancé has just written to her and said he is marrying someone else - two weeks before their wedding is due to take place. She decides it’s time for a complete change of pace and leaves her job, her place - in fact, she leaves town and heads for who knows where.

Where she ends up turns out to be Mitch’s gambling casino. What she does is get hired as an assistant to Mitch’s pregnant secretary. Since both Maggie and Mitch have been burned in their relationships recently and both of them are soon burning to be together, there is lots of sexual tension and lots of potential for misunderstandings.

Maggie starts off thinking that the secretary and Mitch had a fling but figures things out faster than Mitch’s former fiancée. Mitch thinks that Maggie is interested in another man and gets jealous. She gets furious when he repeats his theory after they’ve had some time in bed together.

The sexual chemistry is fine, the hero and heroine are interesting enough, but there are some real problems with the resolution of the story. This is one of two books I’ve read in a month where the resolution is strange. The hero or heroine has doubts and there is a fight or confrontation. Then the character says I’m OK now and everything is resolved. Huh?

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I thought the reader usually gets to see how the character solves the issue that is dividing him or her from that person’s true love. Somehow just going off and coming back in the next chapter to say things are OK doesn’t work, especially since here the two of them have been continually misunderstanding each other from the start.

In this instance the heroine hears that Mitch let his fiancée go without a fight - like she did more or less? - and gets upset. She gets told she made a big mistake in what she thought and realizes she was wrong. Then Mitch says that’s OK, he can forgive her mistakes because he loves her. She thinks that’s great and everything gets taken concluded happily. Excuse me? Shouldn’t Mitch be a little worried about Maggie not trusting and understanding him? And shouldn’t Maggie be wondering about why she is going to marry someone she can harbor such doubts about? I think the two of them need some serious counseling before they get married. I know Silhouette Desires are short, but I think at least another page or two could have been devoted to letting the two of them get to really understand and believe in each other.

--Irene Williams


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