Millionaire on Her Doorstep
by Stella Bagwell
(Silh. Romance #1368, $3.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-19368-8
**
In stories of America's southwest rugged individuals are more likely to hear a one-word moniker than two last names. However, in Millionaire on Her Doorstep, the seventh book in Stella Bagwell's Twins on the Doorstep series, Adam Murdock Sanders is burdened with two and surrounded with a seemingly infinite extended family to boot. The book opens with a map of "The Murdock Family." In addition to symbols for deceased relatives, second marriages, and, of course, twins, there are linking lines for affairs. Adam and his twin, Anna, are the byproduct of one of those dotted links on the map.

In this brief book, Bagwell does not waste any time sharing the source of the tension between the protagonists. In a humorous opening scene, macho Adam is more than a little squeamish as his aunt wields a high-pitched little power saw orthopedists use to remove casts. Adam is nursing a grudge against the Good Samaritan who offered him a ride to work in her jeep, then managed to hurl him over the side, breaking his ankle. In the very next scene Adam's dad, Wyatt Sanders, introduces him to their company's new geologist. You guessed it – none other than the wild driver, a.k.a. Maureen York.

Adam objects strenuously to Maureen's joining their company, but he is wise enough to listen to his father's (translate: his boss's) reasons for hiring her. Then he steps back to give this woman a chance to fail; so he can move on without her in his space.

With a spare writing style, Bagwell reveals the experiences preventing each of her main characters from looking for fulfilling relationships with the opposite sex, while each struggles to ignore or repress an attraction to the other. Adam had a fiancée who died in an auto accident, while wearing a seatbelt; so, his biggest concern is a need to convince Maureen to stop using hers. Maureen is a victim of a different tragedy.

Orphaned at an early age, then raised by a grandmother who died when she was just eight years old, Maureen was raised in caring, but loveless foster homes. In college, she sought to create a family by marrying the first man who appeared to love her. Her brief marriage ended when her husband blamed her for the crib death of their infant daughter, then divorced her. Her failed attempt to love and to belong to someone scarred her badly.

Maureen has spent a decade isolating herself from social relationships, devoting herself to her work as a geologist. The author makes much of the fact that Maureen is a few years older than Adam. That might have been important in some books, but it seems irrelevant here. Maureen's losses could have occurred three, five or eight years in the past; the impact would not have been lessened. The age difference makes no difference to the storyline; it also does not seem to concern Adam and Maureen.

Adam is renovating his house, actually ripping it apart to try to avoid memories of his past. Maureen has bought a new home but cannot move in right away. This results in their both staying at Adam's family's ranch, providing some chances for the two to interact outside of an office setting. There is a lot of agonizing "should I or shouldn't I," and "oh no, we didn't, we shouldn't." That becomes tiresome after awhile.

The real problem with this book is that nothing much happens. Well, on second thought, something does happen. Adam and Maureen resolve their personal hang-ups – miraculously, airing them seems to do the trick, then spurred on by a minor crisis, they are together. What a surprise!

Those who have read the earlier books in the Twins on the Doorstep series may want to read Millionaire on Her Doorstep. However, this story has so very little going on, it may be one even diehard series fans will choose to pass by.

--Sue Klock


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