His Tomboy Bride

The Third Kiss by Leanna Wilson
(Silh. Romance #1484, $3.50, G) ISBN 0-373-19484-6
Matt Cutter is wealthy, handsome, and sexy. Whatís not to like? But Brooke Watson doesnít like him. When they meet because she is the one-millionth visitor to his department store, she resists his charm and gives away all her prizes to charity. Brooke has seen her motherís quickie marriages to wealthier and wealthier men come and go. She doesnít need the men or the marriages. She has devoted herself to her child psychology practice and the kids she works with.

Matt isnít looking to get married, either. He certainly doesnít want to be attracted to this woman who refuses all the presents he tries to give her. But his grandmother, who raised him when his parents abandoned him, says sheís ill and she wants to see him married. Matt doesnít want to deny his grandmother anything that could make her happy, but he doesnít want to marry one of the fortunehunters who swarm around him. Then he thinks of - well, you guessed it.

Brooke is tired of her motherís endless matchmaking. When Matt suggests a fake engagement she sees a way out. Once they ďbreak upĒ she can be too devastated to try again. Contrived idea? Yeah, probably. I guess Matt figures his grandmother is going to keel over any minute and thatís why he thinks he can get away with it. That isnít clear and sounds risky to me. On the other hand, Matt and Brooke come across as really nice folks. You donít mind a little contrivance if they can get together at the end.

I like the characters but Brooke seems too earnest - why canít she allow herself to have a little fun now and then? She can still be dedicated to helping troubled children. But she is earnest in a good way and once she gets into the idea of how much fun it is to kiss Matt, she gives kissing a very earnest try.

Matt starts out seeming a bit superficial but you soon realize he is kinder to and more concerned about others than Brooke is willing to believe. His quick rapport with the child Brooke has been trying to help seems real - - as does Brookeís envy at that rapport. He is willing to give up time and thought for the child in a way most busy people would never do.

The pairís attempts to break up and all the ways the break up never happens get to be a little much. Brookeís realization that she canít hurt her mother works but the ways she uses to avoid hurting Mom are tough to believe. Isnít she supposed to be little Miss Always Good? Grandmother threatening a heart attack whenever needed seems implausible, too. However the will-she-marry-wonít-she wedding scene is nicely done and so is the way Matt realizes he wants to really get married. If you can give the contrivances a little bit of slack you have a fun read here.

--Irene Williams

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