Every Cowgirl's Dream

Marrying an Older Man

Mr. Right Next Door

Corporate Daddy by Arlene James
(Silhouette, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-65034-5
Your official Fortune family reviewer here to report that the newest installment of the ďFortunes of TexasĒ series is a nice take on an old favorite plot. Corporate Daddy by Arlene James finds high-powered executive, Logan Fortune, turning to his loyal assistant Emily Applegate when he discovers that he is the father of a toddler terror named Amanda.

Logan, son of the deceased and mostly unmourned Cameron Fortune, has followed in his fatherís playboy footsteps, at least when it comes to relationships. A vacation romance with a strong-minded woman named Donna had resulted in Amandaís birth, but Donna had never told Logan about her pregnancy. However, her death in an accident left Logan with custody of his daughter. Needless to say, he is ill-prepared for fatherhood.

Fortunately his efficient Emily, the eldest of a large family, knows kids. She steps into the breach and takes charge of the situation. Logan quickly falls in love -- with Amanda. Seeing Emily in a casual situation, when she lets her hair down, both figuratively and really, also leads Logan to a new appreciation of her attractiveness. Suddenly his prim and proper assistant becomes the object of his sexual fantasies.

But Emily isnít cooperating. She knows Loganís track record with women all too well. She knows he is commitment avoidant and that if she surrenders to his seductiveness, her professional future will be at risk. So she holds him at armís length.

This is a well-used plot, but I liked Jamesí take on the story. Emily wasnít secretly in love with her attractive boss. She liked him, but she didnít yearn for his affection. And Logan wasnít completely unaware of Emily. At least on an unconscious level, he knew just how attractive his assistant was. But it is the arrival of Amanda on the scene that alters Loganís and Emilyís relationship.

Logan, like his brother Holden (see Million Dollar Marriage by Maggie Shayne), had been scarred by his fatherís infidelities and was convinced that he was incapable of marriage and family life. Amandaís eruption onto the scene changes his understanding of his own personality and needs. But it takes him almost too long to recognize the nature of his feelings for Emily.

Emily falls in love with Logan, but she fears that his declarations of love are as ephemeral as all his other relationships. There are real barriers to the happily ever after.

James is an skilled and experienced author who knows how to take a tried and true plot and make it work by creating interesting and likable characters. She does a nice job with Amanda, who acts just like a toddler entering her terrible twos just a bit early. The interaction between Logan and his daughter is both heart warming and humorous. James also integrates the ongoing mystery of the disappearance of Baby Bryan Fortune into this installment of the Fortunes of Texas series.

I have been somewhat disappointed in the Texas Fortunes series, but Corporate Daddy left me much more satisfied than the recent entries. If you are a fan of this particular plot, I think you will find Jamesí rendition quite enjoyable.

--Jean Mason

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