His Tomboy Bride by Leanna Wilson
(Silh. Romance #1305, $3.50, G) ISBN 0-373-19305-X
***
His Tomboy Bride is a fairly sweet tale of a young woman out to save the family ranch by any means possible, including marriage to a man she doesn't love. We meet Billie Rae Gunther as she is being fitted for her wedding dress. She's uncomfortable, preferring her jeans and cowboy boots. Billie is twenty-three, and since the deaths of her father and brother, the responsibility for keeping the family home intact has fallen on her shoulders. Gone are her dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Now she's engaged to a wealthy man who will, if nothing else, at least allow her to keep a roof over her mother's head.

Help, and a potential distraction, arrives in the form of Nick Latham. Nick is a former childhood friend of sorts. In her youth, Billie had a mad crush on him, but he married and moved to Houston. Now he's back, divorced, and unable to believe that Billie is getting married.

One look at Nick and all of Billie's memories return. Their first kiss, her infatuation, his teasing of her all conspire to throw her into confusion. How can she be so attracted to a man she hasn't seen in five years? And what about all her carefully-laid wedding plans?

Nick isn't about to let Billie throw herself away on a man who can't appreciate her. Can he change her mind before she walks down the aisle?

In true Silhouette Romance fashion, this is not a complicated story by any means. It will deliver what SR readers expect: a sweet love story and a heroine with just enough spunk to be interesting, although a rocket scientist, she's not. I found Billie's strategy to be just this side of "gold-digger". She's marrying a guy she doesn't love strictly for his money and some stability, but it didn't seem to me that she'd explored any other options at all. In fact, I wasn't convinced Billie needed to have assumed the burden of providing for her mother and saving the day in the first place. There was more than a trace of "martyr" in her character.

Nick is a stock romantic lead. Burned in a nasty divorce, he isn't eager to get involved. At least readers will be spared the "all women are alike" line of motivation. Nick realizes he wants Billie, he just isn't sure how to go about getting her and how far he'll go to prevent her from marrying a creep. I liked him.

For a light afternoon's read, you may well enjoy His Tomboy Bride. Like a favorite restaurant, it's predictable and satisfying. Nothing wrong with that at all.

--Cathy Sova


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