Mail-Order Cinderella
by Kathryn Jensen
(Silh. Desire #318, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-76318-2
***
This book, part of the ďFortuneís Children:The GroomsĒseries, has Tyler Fortune looking for a bride. His family has insisted he must get married or lose his inheritance. So Tyler, who wonít go with having the family choose a wife, begins his search with a dating service. What would appear to be the least attractive and most nervous candidate strikes his fancy - or maybe his reason. If he picks someone plain, he decides, someone who just wants a baby from marriage, then she wonít demand too much from him.

When they meet, Julie Parker thinks Tyler is very attractive, even before she finds out heís part of the wealthiest family in Arizona. In fact Tyler overwhelms her - after all, heís very sexy and very confident. Pretty soon the family is welcoming Julie, the wedding plans are getting made and the two of them are starting to get really interested in the honeymoon.

While I donít mind jumping into the action at the start of the story, the bookís opening throws some elements in too quickly and confusingly - there is something about sabotage at a hospital that could ruin the family business. Also, after setting up the premise that Tyler is forced to marry, the story doesnít explain right away why or how. This book seems to assume that everyone is familiar with the previous stories and would know what was going on. I didnít. Come to think of it, Iím still not sure why his family was so het up about the idea of Tyler getting married within a year.

While I like Julie and Tyler well enough, Cinderella stories rarely do much for me. Tyler seems to have far too many advantages in this matchup. Itís a traditional book - Julie is a worthy bride because sheís a good sex partner, makes a nice home for Tyler and gets pregnant. I kept waiting for more without the story getting beyond that. She never seems to gain the upper hand in this battle of the sexes - shoot, she never gets close to a tie. Tyler has the money, the sex appeal and doesnít seem to love her. Julie tells him it isnít enough for her to be married if he doesnít love her. It doesnít seem to occur to her that the person at fault there is Tyler, not her.

Another part of Tylerís problem is that heís scared to live up to the only part of the deal Julie seems interested in. He isnít sure fatherhood is the right thing for him. His family helps him realize he might be fine at parenting after all. Eventually Tyler realizes Julie is important to him and does something about saving the marriage. He isnít a bad guy, but so what? Heís rich, sheís poor, they fall in love, she runs away and he searches for her. I couldnít work up a lot of enthusiasm for a plot that didnít give me any twists on the Cinderella theme.

--Irene Williams


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