|Patti Berg: Wife for a Day|
(Paperback), ISBN 0-380-80735-1
To keep his younger sister Lauren happy, millionaire rancher Jack Remington needs to deceive her into believing he's married. Along comes a down-on-her-luck seamstress and failed actress named Samantha Jones -- Sam for short. Sam needs the money Jack offers, so she plays along, complicating their lives beyond recognition.
Lauren thinks Sam is Arabella, Jack's fiancee. Ultimately, Sam finds herself playing Arabella on Jack's Wyoming ranch, only now she loves Jack. He shares her feelings, and much of the book's fun derives from watching these two discover their mutual attraction. Fiery, intrepid and resourceful Sam complements Jack's down-to-earth level-headedness. And except for their bank accounts, this charming pair have a lot in common. Once Sam puts her money woes behind her, the well-conceived plot picks up and focuses on the well-matched main characters.
But so many problems otherwise, starting with the title, which should have been something like "Fiancee for a Couple of Weeks." An unsuccessful subplot with Jack's annoying son, Beau, reminds me why people often consider teenagers pains in the posterior. Jack and Sam act older than their nominal ages. Why couldn't they actually be older? Jack must have been a masochist to propose to Arabella, because she displays no redeeming features whatsoever. And someone should've corrected my favorite quibble in the copy edit -- Sam's eyes are green on p. 31 but whiskey-colored on p. 32. Green whiskey? I think I'll stick with red wine.
But what really yanked my chain was how Jack and Beau escaped major injury in car wrecks by virtue of not wearing seat belts. Okay, I'll grant, you do hear about the rare accident where an unbelted person thrown clear of a vehicle survives quite nicely. But this happens about as often water-skiing squirrels and toilets falling out of airplanes. Every statistic on the topic argues in favor of buckling up.
On the other hand, would a "real" man like Jack go for statistics? Not likely. So we better find him some boot-wearin', outdoors-workin', unfiltered Marlboro-smokin' dudes who can speak plainly and with authority about car wrecks.
How about tow-truck drivers? These urban cowboys always buckle up. The last one my car and I had the pleasure of meeting wouldn't start the ignition until I belted in. The tow truck drivers have the last word, folks, and the word is, seat belts save lives. Berg may write otherwise, but that's just more proof that she needs to pay more attention to detail.
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