A Matter of Convenience
by Gabriella Anderson
(Zebra Ballad, $5.50, R) ISBN 0-821-76682-1
***
A Matter of Convenience is the first book in Gabriella Anderson's "Destiny Coin" trilogy. In each book, the heroine finds true love after she becomes the possessor of an ancient good luck coin that has been passed down from mother to daughter through the generations.

Corinna Towers is a nineteen-year-old orphan living with her aunt and uncle. The only keepsake she has of her mother's to remember her by is an ancient silver coin that bears the likeness of the love goddess Venus on one side and the Latin words numquam tuas spes dedisce (never forget your dreams) on the other.

Corinna is treated horribly by her aunt and would do just about anything to escape having to live under her roof. When the handsome and dashing Stuart Grant proposes a sham betrothal that will benefit them both, she agrees to it, knowing he will give her the money she needs to live an independent life when they end their arrangement. All would have gone according to plan had Corinna not succumbed to passion one evening and given him her virginity. Since Stuart is a man of honor, she knows he will have no choice but to turn the sham betrothal into a sham marriage.

Stuart Grant has always had trouble keeping marriage minded ladies and their tenacious mamas from hounding him. He's not only good-looking, but he's also one of Boston's wealthiest men to boot. Corinna is the first woman he's met who didn't instantly fall in love with him and his money, so he finds himself intrigued by her.

Stuart takes a thorough disliking to Corinna's aunt, not caring at all for how she treats her niece. When it occurs to him that a sham betrothal can help both his and Corinna's situations, he acts on the idea immediately. It seems a sensible course for both of them to take, but being near her proves too much temptation and in a moment of unchecked passion he takes Corinna's virginity, making it necessary for them to wed. Stuart doesn't mind marrying her, for in truth, she will make an excellent mistress for his estate. What he does mind is falling in love with his wife, but that is something he feels powerless to stop himself from doing.

A Matter of Convenience employs a couple of plotting techniques that might not go over very well with more experienced romance readers. The first one is called, in a word, "miscommunication." Corinna thinks Stuart feels this way when in fact he feels that way, and Stuart thinks Corinna wants A when in fact she wants B. (Can we say, "frustrating"?!)

When conflict occurs and fails to be resolved because of mere words that were never spoken between the protagonists to make everything right between them, the result is aggravation rather than intrigue. Add into that mix a heroine who is too thankless and stubborn for her own good - the result is a minor headache.

And then comes along the second questionable plotting technique: the big misunderstanding. For the last two-thirds of the book, the heroine is led to believe that the hero is being unfaithful, when in fact, he isn't. The big misunderstanding coupled alongside the scenario of never-ending miscommunication equals major migraine.

A final criticism of this book concerns the reader's ability to be transported into America's past. You are told that you are reading about Boston, yet there is no real colonial flavor. The setting just didnít feel very authentic.

So why, after all of those criticisms, did I give A Matter of Convenience a three heart rating? Because Gabriella Anderson is a good storyteller and this novel does possess the ability to draw you into the plot. Whether or not it keeps your attention is largely up to your preferences as a reader of romance. Readers who haven't yet gotten their fill of miscommunication scenarios and big misunderstandings might enjoy this novel to a greater extent than I did.

--Tina Engler


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