Just a Little Bit Married

Just a Little Bit Pregnant

Midnight Cinderella

Night of No Return

The Virgin & the Outlaw

Michael’s Temptation by Eileen Wilks
(Silh. Desire #1409, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76409-X
Eileen Wilks goes three for three with her enjoyable series about the Wade brothers. This book stands nicely on its own, but if you’ve read and enjoyed the first two, Michael’s Temptation will not disappoint.

Michael Wade and his two older brothers must be married before they can have access to the fortune their father left them in trust. They’re all doing quite well and would be perfectly happy to let the money rot in a bank - except for one problem. Ada, the housekeeper who was more of a mother to them than any of their father’s girlfriends and trophy wives, needs extremely expensive medical treatment. They can’t afford it without their inheritance.

Michael has his girl all lined up; she’ll marry him in exchange for a generous share of the proceeds, then go away. The ceremony takes place just as soon as he returns from a “special services” assignment in the jungles of Latin America.

Unfortunately the job, to rescue a missionary from the ruthless guerrilla leader known as El Jefe, does not go quite as planned. Michael no sooner discovers that Reverend A.J. Kelleher is a woman than they are cut off from the rest of the rescue team and forced to flee into the jungle. They’re on their own now, and must make their way through the hostile - in more ways than one - terrain to a town outside of El Jefe’s territory. A gunshot wound to Michael’s leg further complicates their escape.

Although it’s not a terribly original plot, I raced through this book, engaged by Ms. Wilk’s telling of it. Her rendering of the atmosphere and scenery is vivid, but takes a back seat to the relationship between the two characters.

Michael finds himself instantly intrigued by the “Rev” and the better he gets to know her the more attracted he becomes. Nobody’s stereotype, Alyssa is athletic, resourceful and gallant in addition to having a sense of humor, unwavering principles and great legs. She doesn’t follow orders blindly, but neither does she object to doing what she’s told by someone with more expertise. In short, she has a brain and she isn’t afraid to use it. If you were choosing someone to be stranded in the jungle with, this lady would get drafted in the first round.

Michael comes as something of surprise to Alyssa, too. She hasn’t found anyone attractive since her husband’s death in a convenience store holdup a couple of years earlier. The alpha Michael is about 180 degrees from her minister spouse, and the fact that he makes a living by the sword, as it were, is problematic for her on a number of levels.

But Michael also has unexpected depths, and circumstances combine with his growing feelings for Alyssa to demonstrate both his considerable strengths and his vulnerabilities. The attraction between them is swift and compelling, but the author does her best not to rush them into anything. It’s a difficult problem to solve in short format books, and Alyssa’s initial reservations add some judicious anticipation. There’s never any question, though, that when these two do get together they will be in some danger of setting the jungle on fire.

I must also commend the author for the intriguing way the three books in this series blend together. They all take place more or less concurrently and knowing what’s going on with Michael’s brothers back in the States while he struggles for survival in the jungle adds an interesting dimension. Each of the three brothers and the women they fall for are also distinctly different from each other. Some authors are criticized for writing the same characters over and over, but that is definitely not the case here.

If the story stumbles, it because the energy of the characters is not always enough to overcome the predictability of the situation. On the whole, however, it was a fun, fast-paced and very entertaining read. I’m looking forward to Ms. Wilks’ next trip to the plate.

--Judi McKee

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