Megan's Mate by Nora Roberts
(Silhouette Intimate Moments 745, PG-13)
ISBN 0-373-07745-9
***

How well do you remember a series of books that you read five years ago? Would you want to read a follow-up book written five years later? Megan's Mate, is a companion book to Nora Roberts' Calhoun Women series, a family saga that was published in four different Silhouette lines in 1991.

I remember reading the series -- Courting Catherine, A Man for Amanda, For the Love of Lilah and Suzanna's Surrender -- but as I gave birth to my first child at some point during the series, my recollection of the details may be unusually hazy. (Actually, my strongest memory is of begging my husband to bring one of the books to the hospital, where I was unable to sleep. It was my last chance to read for about 6 months!)

Silhouette is planning to re-release the Calhoun Women stories in one volume next month, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Megan's Mate, is a teaser, meant to whet our appetites so we will rush out and buy the (probably overly-priced) trade-sized book.

Megan's Mate focuses on Megan O'Riley, sister of Sloan O'Riley, who is now married to Amanda Calhoun. Megan is a single mother to nine-year-old Kevin, the result of an ill-fated affair with Baxter Dumont, who not so coincidentally was the first husband of Suzanna Calhoun. After many years of living in Oklahoma, Megan moves to Bar Harbor to work for the Calhouns. The love story centers around Megan and Nathaniel Fury, a friend of the Calhoun family through Holt Bradford, who is now married to Suzanna.

Are you following this? As the book manages to include all four Calhoun sisters, their husbands, various children and babies, as well as a dotty aunt and a domineering great-aunt, I found myself referring to the genealogy chart in the front of the book just to keep track of who was married to whom and what babies belonged to which mothers.

In the midst of all of this business, Megan lets herself love again, Baxter Dumont makes a brief, nasty appearance, and the dotty Aunt Coco finds her true love.

I love any Nora Roberts book I can get my hands on, bBut there were just too many characters whom I didn't remember well, and they cluttered up the book. The love story wasn't exceptional. The growing bond between Nathaniel and Kevin, Megan's son, was more touching to me than the love story.

My advice to die-hard Roberts' fans would be to get a copy of Megan's Mate, but not to read it immediately. Wait until the Calhoun saga is reissued. If it doesn't make you mad to fork over a few extra bucks to buy the reissue, do so and refresh your memory about the Calhoun women and the ghostly lovers who haunt their family home. Then try "Megan's Mate." I have a feeling that the book will read better as a nice coda to a well-written series, rather than as a challenge to your long-term memory.

--Susan Scribner


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