"Fortunes of Texas"

Blackthorne

Briana

Courtship of Izzy McCree

Rory

 
Snowbound Cinderella
by Ruth Langan
(Silhouette, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-65035-3
***
My monthly report on the latest entry in the “Fortunes of Texas” saga is a little late. Blame it on the corporate honchos at B.Dalton who decided to close my local store with its great romance section, leaving me to scramble to find cetain books in my favorite lines. But I did manage to turn up a copy of Ruth Langan’s contribution. Better late than never.

In fact, Snowbound Cinderella is only tangentially tied to the Fortunes. The heroine is Ciara Wilde, the movie star who is Emily Applegate’s (see Corporate Daddy) best friend and who became friends with Eden Fortune in that book. The hero, Jace Lockhart, is the brother of Mary Ellen and Jannine (now deceased) Lockhart, who married Fortune brothers. Thus, Jace is uncle to all the assorted Fortune kids. Boy, these relationships are complex.

At any rate, Ciara has come to a decisive moment in her life. In two weeks she is supposed to marry Hollywood heartthrob, Brendan Swift. But she has come to wonder whether Brendan wants her or the promotional possibilities that their marriage will bring. And she is tired of the swirl of publicity that surrounds her. Needing a place to get away to think, Ciara is glad to accept Eden’s offer of a remote Fortune hideaway in the mountains.

Jace Lockhart has been a TV news reporter for years. He has covered all the world’s hot spots and seen more violence and tragedy than anyone should have to deal with. A terrorist bomb left him wounded and his lover dead a year ago and he has been unable to recover. Offered a leave of absence, he is happy to accept his sister’s offer to use the remote Fortune hideaway.

Upon his arrival, Jace is greeted by a rifle toting beauty wearing little more than a bikini. Ciara is convinced that some press low life has tracked her down. Once the two work out the confusion, the battle over who should leave and who should stay begins. But a freak spring snowstorm makes the point moot. The two are stranded, with predictable if enjoyable results.

Jace discovers that Ciara -- whom he calls Hollywood -- is not the blonde bimbo she so frequently portrays in her films. Rather, she is a warm and witty woman, devoted to her family, and wise to the ways of the human heart. Ciara, after her first negative reaction to Jace’s profession, finds him a man who has been hurt and who needs healing. He is also one of the few men to see behind her glamorous exterior to the real woman. Hostility becomes friendship which becomes attraction which leads you know where. But then road is plowed and the world intrudes and the idyll seems unhappily over.

Langan handles this tried and true plot very nicely. Both Ciara and Jace are well drawn characters. Jace has to find a way to put the past behind him and Ciara has to find her way to a different future. Their relationship, while it develops quickly, meets needs that neither knows they have. Certainly, their unusual circumstances make the romance seem a little less rushed than would otherwise have been the case.

Snowbound Cinderella is a perfectly acceptable short romance. It might have been more enjoyable if it had stood alone rather than being included in the series. The need at the end of the book to move the saga of missing Baby Bryan and to revisit some of the Fortunes from previous books actually detracted a bit from the story.

If you are fond of stories with snowbound lovers or if you are following the Fortunes of Texas series, you may want to pick up Snowbound Cinderella. I hope you don’t have as much trouble finding it as I did.

--Jean Mason


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