Conveniently His

A Cowboy, a Bride & a Wedding Vow
by Shirley Rogers
(Silh. Desire #1344, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76344-1
Here's a story with a cowboy, a bride and a wedding vow. Add in a secret baby who's now twelve, and you've got the framework for this story. Advocating truth in advertising, you need to know that the bride and the wedding vow don't appear until the very end, but the cowboy and the secret baby appear on page one.

Jake McCall receives the surprise of his adult life when he's told by a young boy, "I think you're my father." Jake, who's now sterile after an accident with a heavy-hoofed horse, is highly suspicious. But when he finds out that the young boy's mother is Catherine St. John, his college sweetheart, Jake realizes that he very well could be looking at his son, his only progeny.

Years before, Jake had to quit school and return to his West Texas ranch. The ranch was failing, so Jake had to build it up while caring for his younger siblings. The financial outcome was dubious, so he severed all contact with Catie. When the young boy claiming to be his son utters Catie's name, Jake knows that young Matthew is his.

Jake is immediately hostile toward Catie. How dare she keep his son's existence a secret? Well, lunkhead, she didn't. Catie tried repeatedly to contact him when she found out she was pregnant. What caused her to cease her attempts was a letter from Jake's attorney, telling her that Jake did not know her.

Now Matthew, their son, has run off to find his father. In true romance fashion, Matthew wants to stay on the ranch. Luckily for all it is summer vacation. And in true romance fashion, Catie, a school employee, has the summer off and feels that she needs to stay, too. Lastly, in true romance fashion, Jake feels betrayed and makes the obligatory threat that he wants custody of Matthew.

While there's nothing wrong with all this true romance fashion plot lines, it's truly a deja vu situation. We have been there...done that. And what bothered me most and truly annoyed me was that Jake, after seeing the proof that Catie had tried to contact him, still blames her and can't take responsibility for his own part in the problem. He's the one who left; he's the one who didn't ever contact Catie.

Don't men ever stop to think that intimacy can have consequences? I guess not, especially in Romance Land. Jake also allows his sterility to cloud the issues. At one point he reasons that he's not good enough for Catie anymore. At times like this I always hear Winnie the Pooh saying, "Oh, bother."

A romance reader who's just beginning to explore the genre may find this story satisfactory. Those of us who've been reading for a while will, in all likelihood, recognize what's happening before it even happens. This lack of excitement watered down my enjoyment too much for me to recommend A Cowboy, a Bride & a Wedding Vow.

-- Linda Mowery

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