"Fortune's of Texas"

The Baby Legacy

Buchanan's Pride

The Mail-Order Mix-Up

Wedlocked by Pamela Toth
(Silhouette, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-65040-X
The “Fortunes of Texas” saga continues with Wedlocked which stars Cole Cassidy, the daughter of Lily Cassidy who is engaged to family patriarch Ryan Fortune and who is charged with the murder of Sophia Fortune, Ryan’s nasty second wife. If the above sentence seems inordinately long, it seemed necessary to provide the background for understanding this book. And I didn’t even mention that Ryan is the grandfather of Baby Bryan who was kidnapped a year earlier by Maria Cassidy, Lily’s unbalanced younger daughter. Yes, my friends, the soap opera continues!

Cole is a successful lawyer in Denver, but has returned home to Texas to defend his mother. Cole agrees with Ryan that it is important that they hire the best private investigator to help with the case. Imagine his surprise when said PI turns out to be Annie Jones, the woman he loved and left six years ago.

Annie had been on the San Antonio police force at the time. She had been accused of taking bribes and very much needed Cole to believe in her. But when she refused to tell him what had really happened, he concluded that either she was guilty or that she didn’t really love and trust him. So he headed for Denver. Annie had left the force and started her own detective agency. She owes Ryan Fortune, so can’t turn down the case.

Now, will they, nill they, the two must work together to try to find the evidence that will exonerate Lily. Since neither has truly gotten over the other, the outcome is predictable. However, seeing the two work their way through past misunderstandings while working on the problem of who really killed Sophia Fortune is quite enjoyable. I must admit that I really felt that Cole’s previous actions were pretty unforgivable at the outset, but Toth did manage to provide some excuse for his behavior. I might have preferred to see him grovel a bit more, but Annie and Cole seem just right for each other and certainly deserve their happily ever after.

If the romance in Wedlocked was enjoyable, why aren’t I recommending the book? Certainly my many fellow “Fortune addicts” will want to read this installment of the series. But I must admit that I found “The Fortunes of Texas” much less enjoyable than the original “Fortune’s Children” stories. I think that the reason may lie in the fact that there was no real mystery involved. In the previous books, we knew that someone was trying to ruin the Fortune family, but until quite near the end, we didn’t know who. And even when that was revealed, there remained a real question as to what was going on.

In “The Fortunes of Texas,” we readers knew from the outset who kidnapped Baby Bryan and why. We knew who killed Sophia and how. So, at least on my part, there was frequent frustration with the authorities and the cast of characters. How could they possibly be so blind and/or incompetent? Thus, while the romances in this series were often enjoyable, the overarching storyline often seemed forced and intrusive.

This having been said, I must admit that I read all twelve books as soon as I got hold of them and was clearly involved in the Fortune’s bad fortune. I just wish the overall scenario had been a little more compelling.

--Jean Mason

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