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The Wedding Gamble

Blaylock's Bride by Cait London
(Silh. Desire #1207, $3.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76207-0
The blurb in the front of Blaylock's Bride states that so many people asked for a return of the Blaylocks, introduced first in Midnite Rider (SD 726) and reprised in The Seduction of Jake Tallman (SD 811), that a new series was formed. I never read the other two books, but if they were anything like this book, I'm afraid I wouldn't have made it past book one, much less demanded several more.

Roman Blaylock is a big, tough cowboy with an over-abundance of pride and a soft heart. A heart that has been badly crushed by a cold, cheating ex-wife. Thankfully, that abundance of pride carried him through, and now allows him to wear a facade in front of family and neighbors alike.

The ranch adjoining the Blaylock property has been in the hands of the Llewlyns for generations. Patriarch Boone Llewlyn had left the land to make his fortune elsewhere. While pursuing this fortune, he left his unfeeling wife to rear his children. Thirty years later, he returned to the land. He now had a family that was out of control, with no redeeming qualities. It was too late to salvage his own kids, but he resolved to rescue his grandchildren, his "innocents," before they were lost as well. Of course, he was so embarrassed by the losers his children became, he never let any of the neighbors know his family circumstances.

On his deathbed, Boone makes Roman promise to continue to round up his wayward "innocents," and bring them back to the ranch... without telling them, or anyone else of course, that they are Llewlyns. He is to start with the oldest grandchild, Kallista Bellamy.

Kallista returns, but her intent is revenge. She wants to run that hateful Roman off of her beloved "friend" Boone's property. Roman must have conned a sick dying man, to gain control of his property. She returns to the ranch, and to a business that Boone set up for her in town a pottery/coffee shop. She spends every spare moment going over the ranch accounts, property rights, etc., trying to prove that Roman is as hateful as she'd like him to be.

Kallista has had a rough life, being shuffled around by a manhunting mother who never loved her. She has deep emotional scars from almost being molested by one of her mother's many men. With her basic mistrust of men, and some additional misinformation from Roman's ex-wife, Kallista assumes that Roman is not only hateful, but abusive toward women. Roman's pride won't allow him to deny her accusations.

These two come together in a Cuisinart mix of love/hate feelings. She hates him. But he's so good looking. She's a pest, but she's so beautiful. "He's despicable... I hope he kisses me again." "She hates me... let's get married." "Sure I'll marry him... but he's still a thief, and I still hate him." "I'll choke on my pride before I tell this woman that I'm not the bastard she thinks I am. And I still won't tell her why I keep rescuing all of Boone's Innocents, and bringing them home with me."

I'm not really quite sure why they marry. But then I wasn't sure of quite a few things about this book. Parts of it were interesting. Parts were well written. However, throughout the book, the author seemed to go off on tangents explaining family histories, or else getting so caught up in the imagery she was adding that whatever point she intended to make was lost The end result was dizzying.

Perhaps I would have understood this book more, had I read the previous two, since so many of the tangents seemed to revolve around the family histories, but I doubt it. Additionally, the characters were so damaged and hateful to one another throughout. They may have had understandable reasons, but by the time they resolved their problems, I no longer cared. I just wanted an aspirin, and a nap.

With more focus and better editing, this book could have had potential.

--Diane Grayson

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