Anything For His Children

Hanging By a Thread

A Husband’s Watch

Loose Screws

Plain-Jane Princess

Playing For Keeps

Runaway Bridesmaid

The Prodigal Valentine
by Karen Templeton
(Silh. Spec. Ed. #1808, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0373-24808-3
Despite the title, The Prodigal Valentine is really less about Valentine ’s Day and more about two people who have known each other for their entire lives and finally have figured out that risks are worth taking to really enjoy love and a relationship.

Ben Vargas is the older of two boys and has been gone for 10 years. He left for many reasons, one of which was to help his younger brother be seen by his father as a man capable of taking over their father’s construction business. He also left the woman he was falling in love with and who he feared wanted a commitment he could not give.

Mercedes Zamora, Mercy to her family, is one of five daughters. She has always been the one to help keep calm in a crisis. She is also the only one who is unmarried at almost age 40. She has convinced herself that she is satisfied as a co-owner of a business with a cat and her nieces and nephews to love. She has convinced herself she doesn’t need marriage and kids of her own. Her one love was Ben Vargas and when he left, he took her heart.

This is the tale of Ben and Mercy being reunited when Ben returns. His life is basically a mystery and he has a tale to tell, but he is keeping it until he feels everyone is ready to hear it. Mercy, meanwhile has built protective walls and sees Ben as a friend from her past…except when she sees him as her young lover who has her heart. They fight their attraction and yet, they realize they have something solid together. They spend the story loving and sparring, gauging reactions and trying to figure out their next moves, almost like they were playing chess.

Also in the mix are the families. Ben’s brother Tony is married to Mercy’s sister Anita and they have two kids who play a role. The parents are meddlesome yet loving. There are Mercy’s partners, Dana and Cass, who have both recently married and are rooting for Mercy to find her happy ending too.

The Prodigal Valentine is an easy reading experience, taking just a few hours and holding my interest. It is a character driven story, giving us views from both Ben and Mercy. The conflict is their lack of trust and/or their being scared to trust. This means there is a lot of dialogue and a lot of soul-searching on both of their parts.

The author uses a tongue in cheek style when she is in Mercy’s head, adding some delightful humor. Ben is much more contemplative and serious. Together they are fun, sexy and engaging. It is hard to fully figure out why there is so much angst, but this is just a minor distraction as the story unfolds.

If you want a nice romance with some intriguing family dynamics that get all mixed up in two people’s story, then give The Prodigal Valentine a try.

--Shirley Lyons

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