The Wedding Ring Promise
by Susan Mallery
(Silh. Sp. Ed. # 1190, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-24190-9
****
In the prologue, we meet our protagonists, Molly Anderson and Dylan Black. Molly, seventeen, is surviving a miserable adolescence. She's overweight, and because she wears braces and has a bad complexion, thinks she's homely. Her only bright spot is Dylan, her older sister's boyfriend. She's had a harmless crush on him, and he's befriended the troubled teen. The story begins as Molly's older sister is marrying someone else. Twenty-three-year-old Dylan is leaving town, sensing that he needs to move on. Molly escapes from the wedding in time to say goodbye. In a poignant scene, Dylan gives Molly the wedding ring that he'd intended for her sister – with a wedding ring promise, "When you're all grown up and ready for an adventure, you come find me. Give me this. We'll go anywhere you want." Then he zooms out of town on his motorcycle.

Ten years later, Molly is packing her suitcases, willy-nilly, with no destination in mind. She just knows that she needs to get away. Throwing the contents of a drawer into her suitcase, she finds the wedding ring and remembers Dylan's long-ago promise. A phone call nets his current location. The idea of contacting Dylan won't let go. An adventure is exactly what Molly needs. She needs to move on. On Monday she had lost her job. On Tuesday she'd received a collect call from her fiancé, in Mexico with his young secretary. Now he's an ex-fiancé. It's Wednesday and she's just received a call that will change her life as she knows it. Dylan's long- ago offer is a lifeline that she grabs with both hands.

Dylan Black is far removed from the youth who wore a black leather jacket and had a belligerent attitude. Now he runs a million-dollar motorcycle customizing business. A mega-conglomerate has just offered him a very, very generous amount to buy his company. Every thing about the offer is good, except that Dylan will now be a little fish in a big pond. Granted, he'll be a rich fish with creative license, but still a little fish. When Molly steps out of his past at a time when his life is in turmoil, he accepts her challenge. Yes, he'll honor his promise from ten years ago. He'll give her an adventure.

Dylan and Molly begin a serendipitous adventure along California's coast. When they visit Santa Barbara and Solvang, it reminded me of my trips there. My husband is always amazed when we visit locales, and I know what I want to see while I'm there. Romance books are good travel guides. Tell that to any doubting Thomases the next time they make fun of your reading selections.

Both Dylan and Molly are careful to keep lust from rearing its head. Molly is especially careful. She's seen the kind of women that Dylan is attracted to, and it's not someone who's five foot four and twenty pounds overweight. She describes herself as fat; he sees her as lush. Molly's faulty self-perception won't allow her to believe that she is a desirable woman. Believe you me, Dylan is up to the challenge.

Molly also discovers that you can't run from your troubles. They follow you. In the second paragraph I mentioned that Molly received devastating news on Wednesday. That news and how Molly and Dylan react to it, process it and assimilate it, make up the crux of the book. It will shake the very foundation of their relationship. I try not to give away plot details that occur past the first third of a book. The secret that I've alluded to occurs past this point. So while I can tell you that Molly is jobless and fiancé-less, I can't tell you the third and most startling revelation. Just know that I was curious, concerned and anxious to find out why Molly makes a mysterious call to her answering machine each night. Aha, I did guess correctly, but I won't deny you the pleasure of guessing, too. This may seem overly cryptic, but anticipation is good for the soul.

The Wedding Ring Promise is one of those rare books which explores a woman's issue with dignity and honesty. It's definitely worth your time.

--Linda Mowery


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