Marriage by Necessity by Christine Rimmer
(Silhouette Special Edition #1161, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-24161-5
Marriage by Necessity is book two in Christine Rimmer's "Conveniently Yours" trilogy about the Bravo men. Book one is The Nine-Month Marriage, SSE#1148.The series will conclude with Practically Married, SSE#1174. Until I saw this information at the end of the book, I had no idea I was reading a spin-off. This book does stand alone.

Christine Rimmer has achieved something I really thought couldn't happen. She made me appreciate a tortured hero, normally a subspecies I avoid like traffic jams or people with runny noses. I'm still reeling from amazement. Those of you who like angst-ridden, tortured souls are gonna love this guy.

Megan Kane has to find a husband, fast. Her late father's will specifies that she's got two years to find a husband and have a baby or her Wyoming cattle ranch will be sold. There's only one man that she wants for her husband, a man she's loved for years. And this is the one man who doesn't love her. He's told her in words and deeds.

Nate Bravo is a PI in Los Angeles, far removed from his early life in Medicine Creek, Wyoming. Meggie flies to Los Angeles to ask Nate to help her, even offering a marriage of convenience. After listening to Meggie's plea for help, he turns her down flat. He knows what he wants, and a relationship, committed or otherwise, is nowhere on the list. After Maggie goes home, Nate is haunted with visions of her with other men. Against his better judgment, he acquiesces. There are stipulations, however. He wants Meggie to stay part of the time in LA with him until she becomes pregnant. Both agree that once the baby is born and the terms of the will are fulfilled, they'll divorce.

Unlike Jack Mercy from Montana Sky who vengefully tried to control his daughters from the grave, we know why Meggie's father has stipulated that she marry and have children. We're privy to his poignant reminiscences about his years of loneliness and isolation, a situation he does not want Meggie to endure. Manipulative? Yes but with wonderful intentions. He's also known for years how Meggie feels about Nate.

Meggie and Nate's life in Los Angeles is a large part of the story. His neighbors, virtual strangers to him, quickly befriend Meggie. They're a wonderful assortment of secondary characters, some playing important roles. Meggie is not portrayed as the country bumpkin come to town to gawk at the sites. She acclimates nicely and has a grand old time.

Meggie is no quitter. She's loved this man since she was barely out of childhood. Hope keeps her going. She even postpones telling Nate about her pregnancy to stay with him longer. I'm still trying to decide what keeps Nate off my 'men who act like this are scum' list. I kept wanting to find out the why. Why was he afraid to love . . . anybody? I'm glad when the reasons are finally revealed. We don't even know until the very end why he's determined to remain 'free.' The way we find out is a bit hard to swallow, but the reasons explain everything and are credible.

Am I a convert who will now read about the tortured hero? Not even close. Would I read about them again? Only if they were portrayed as well as Christine Rimmer does here. This is 1) a marriage of convenience, 2) baby and 3) tortured hero story. None of these are my favorite plot lines. Surprisingly and thankfully, these work well together. If any or all of these appeal to you, then you're in for an enjoyable read. If not, buyer Be Aware.

--Linda Mowery

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