The Twenty-Four Bride
by Day LeClaire
(Harlequin Romance #3495, $3.50, G)
ISBN 0-373-03495-4
**
When I was just a few pages into this book, I started wondering if the author has something against people with blue eyes. It made me rather uneasy, since I have blue eyes. I hope that no one has ever described mine with words like "flinty blue, cool blue, cobalt glare, fierce blue light... etc." I have blonde hair, too, but it hasn't ever looked like it was made of icicles. Straw, maybe, but that's easily remedied with conditioner. I don't know why some people equate blue eyes and blond hair with coldness maybe it's the whole Scandinavian look thing that makes them think "cold." I assure all you non blondes out there, I am very warm blooded.

Unlike our cold blooded hero Nick Colter, brilliant computer programmer. He's definitely a cold man, a veritable iceberg and he's even nicknamed "Ice." His emotions are buried deep down in a small dark place, so deep that he has a difficult time finding them. He's been in Paris for almost a year, and decides to return home early he realizes he needs warming up. And there's only one place to go for the type of warmth that he seeks.

Nick had indulged himself in the warmth of Dani Sheraton for just one night, and he can't forget her. He'd been attracted to her for 5 years, but carefully controlled his interest, since she was married to a business partner. Nick, the typical abandoned child, has been miserable in his cold empty life, and the one night in Dani's arms brought him more warmth than he could ever hope for. His childhood, his parents the whole story was so Little Match Girl-ish that I imagined Nick with his frostbitten nose pressed against a computer monitor... gazing out at Dani.

Predictably, the Flame Queen can melt the Ice Man's heart. Dani does have a surprise for Nick, though, it's almost 9 months since she saw or heard from him, and she's just hours away from delivering his baby. And gosh darn it, she forgot to tell him. Or maybe she didn't feel like scaling the glassy frozen steps to his heart.

Dani is a twice burned woman her husband left her for another woman who was pregnant with his child but he was killed in a car wreck on the way to his pregnant lover. After his death, she decides to be with someone again, and he (Nick) leaves her after one night of pleasure, to go on an extended trip to Europe.

To add insult to injury, her husband embezzled millions from the company and left Dani destitute, but Nick covers that up to protect her. Nick is "Mr. I'm In Charge" and takes off to Paris to verify the paternity of the dead husband's child, and magnanimously decides the child and its mother deserve the embezzled money. All of this so Dani can be innocent of her husband's deceit, since she is just too fragile to handle anything herself.

So, in less than 24 hours, we have a marriage, a baby and a computer. Oh yes, a computer named Gem, who is probably a more believable character than the others in this book and certainly added humor to this strangled love story. Gem has more warmth to its circuits and memory boards than Nick has to his blue eyes.

I'm not sure if they were humorous or not, but the nursing scenes were... unusual. I'm a former nursing mother and was almost disgusted with the thought of "priming the pump" as Nick so succinctly puts it. I think the author wrote those scenes as an erotic aspect of Nick and Dani's relationship. Personally, I didn't find them erotic at all. They were almost ludicrous.

I'm afraid that The Twenty-Four-Hour Bride just left me with a chill. A big blue-eyed chill.

--Julia S. Sandlin


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