Oops…We’re Married?
By Susan Lute
(Silh. Rom. #1671, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-19671-7
***
Debut novelist Susan Lute has captured the ludicrous and written a generally entertaining story. Oops…We’re Married? is one of those tales that can only be told in the category format primarily because it is far-fetched and truly written just for the romantic.

Eleanor Silks Rose and Dillion Stone have been coerced by a mutual friend to participate in a charity dating game and wedding, only to discover that the “pretend” wedding is absolutely real. The “how” is the far-fetched part, but stay with me. That same evening, Eleanor gets asked to leave her rental by a dying landlord and she cannot refuse. So she moves in with Dillion for a temporary time until she can find a house and they can get an annulment. This part is silly, but not as far-fetched. Now that she is living there, Dillion’s six-year-old son, Ryan, works his magic and wraps Eleanor around his little finger. Eleanor doesn’t know how to say no to him, as he is so vulnerable. She is also attracted to his dad and he to her. The conflict arises when the past makes Eleanor and Dillion act to keep the relationship from advancing.

Eleanor was an orphan, abandoned by her mother at birth. She went from foster home to foster home, unloved and unwanted. Then she met her foster brother, Jake, who although older than she, took her under his wing. In her early teens, Eleanor had a major crush on one of Jake’s friends named Dillion Stone. She followed Jake and Dillion around and was crushed when Dillion married a childhood sweetheart.

Eleanor decided at that point that she could never love again and devoted herself to her studies, and making a name for herself in the business world. She succeeded. However, underneath it all she is lonely and vulnerable. She refuses to let Dillion get under her skin, or so she tries to tell herself.

Dillion had a rich marriage and that marriage produced a son. His wife was killed in a car accident. He is just now starting to look for a mother for Ryan after four years, and is willing to settle for companionship for himself. His list of qualities for a new wife describe Miss Suzi Homemaker - everything that Eleanor is not. He has convinced himself that Eleanor is not the one for him, but his body, heart and mind don’t always agree.

Eleanor and Dillion are alternately stubborn, vulnerable, lust-filled and wary. Ryan breaks down many barriers and allows the soft side of each to shine. It is this soft side that is the main attraction for both. For me, it is their stubborn side that is the most frustrating. Neither seems to have the capacity to trust so there is a huge amount of squabbling and bullying and game playing. In a longer book this would have been the killer but in a book this length it is just mildly annoying.

There are some great scenes that move the story along. A zoo adventure and a strip poker challenge are very well written and engaging. Ryan is a kid without being obnoxious.

The ending brings to light a happy-ever-after on several levels. It is generally satisfying because the coincidence that occurs is no more far-fetched than the premise at the beginning. The characters are engaging enough that I was happy to see them happy.

Suspend your belief, accept that this is romantic fiction and enjoy Oops...We’re Married?

--Shirley Lyons


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