The Wedding Lullaby
by Melissa McClone
(Silh. Romance #1485, $3.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-19485-4
****
Laurel Worthington is young, beautiful…and pregnant. It had all started at a tacky Reno wedding arranged by one of her friends, Henry Davenport. Henry had always had more money than he knew what to do with, and each year he threw a “Bacchanalian celebration” in honor of his birthday, which many of his friends attended. Two of the party’s attendees would be “randomly” chosen to participate in whatever scheme Henry had devised that year.

This year’s participants were Laurel and Brett Matthews, a self-made millionaire, who was raised with Henry and was the son of the Davenport’s cook. The prank wedding was real enough, but was annulled the next day. However, by then the damage had been done. Laurel had given Brett her virginity and Brett had given Laurel a beautiful music box to remember their “wedding” by.

It’s now four months later and Laurel’s pregnant with Brett’s child, single, and broke. She was raised as a socialite in Chicago, and has no work experience. Her father left the country with all of his money and his 20-something-year-old mistress, abandoning Laurel and her mother. Her mother quickly left to chase after her next rich husband and Laurel’s fiancé dumped her, leaving Laurel with few alternatives. She’d left Brett a note the morning after their wedding night citing family obligations as the reason for her abrupt departure and hadn’t heard from him since. She doesn’t know how he would react to her news of the pregnancy, but she has nowhere else to turn. Though they haven’t spoken directly in four months, Brett knows all about Laurel’s life. He hasn’t been able to forget her and wondered what “family obligations” required Laurel to leave him so suddenly the morning after. He tried to forget her when she didn’t call him, but then began hearing rumors from mutual friends about her father’s abandonment and Laurel’s pregnancy. He decided to hire a private investigator to determine the validity of the rumors. When Laurel arrives in Portland to break the news to Brett, she discovers he already knows everything. However, Brett is certain she has devised this scheme all along to force him to marry her so that she can get to his money. Which explains his shock when she refuses his proposal and requests to be given a job in his company instead. Laurel never wants to be dependent on a man again, thanks to her father, and won’t marry again unless she and her groom are in love. Brett wants her at home taking care of his child. One way or another, he’ll devise a plan and get her to agree to marry him and soon.

I enjoyed this story for its simplicity. There weren’t any scheming significant others trying to come between the Brett and Laurel, which can often become irritatingly distracting to the story. All of Brett and Laurel’s obstacles are self-imposed, and thus so much more rewarding when they are overcome. Brett is perhaps overly obsessed with his past, but it does make his character more believable.

I also enjoyed Brett and Laurel as a couple. Laurel may be a little too naïve, but she complements Brett’s sometimes cynical views of the world very well. I especially liked her spunk and determination to succeed with or without Brett’s assistance. The brief snatches of their wedding night that the reader gets to see offer insight into how well matched these two character’s passionate natures really are.

There is a lack of depth given to some of the characters. Henry Davenport comes off as a rich playboy with nothing better to do than wreak havoc on his friend’s lives. However, the true Henry shows his colors towards the end, making me wish we had been allowed to see more of that side of Henry from the beginning. This problem is also found, to an extent, in Brett and Laurel. However, this may be attributed to the lack of supporting characters. This is definitely a story about the main couple with no secondary storylines to be found.

Regardless of these minor foibles, I enjoyed the story for what it is…a simple story of love and redemption. I loved getting to know Brett and Laurel, and following their progression from friendship to love. I will definitely look for future titles from Melissa McClone.

--Kristy Hales


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