The Bride-in-Law

Cinderella's Midnight Kiss

A Knight in Rusty Armor

The Passionate G-Man

The Virgin & the
Vengeful Groom

More to Love by Dixie Browning
(Silh. Desire #1372, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-76372-7
We all moan and groan from time to time about the perfection of the lead characters in romance novels. It's easy to tolerate some imperfections in the heroine; after all, we need to be able to empathize with her.

So maybe here's a chance to meet a heroine who's less than perfect. The problem is, she's the only one who seems to be aware of her shortcomings.

In Dixie Browning's More to Love, Molly Dewhurst is womanly, with the term waif never, ever being applied to her. She's Everywoman in that her diet starts today, with no exceptions, no chocolate breaks and no food that tastes good. It's rabbit food from now on. Sound familiar?

Thirty-six-year-old Molly, who's divorced from a third-rate whiney wimp, is a housekeeper in an assisted-living facility. A fire has shut it down for repairs and a serendipitous call from her newly-married sister gives her a chance to break out of her rut. She's going to their rented house on Ocracoke Island to babysit for two birds and one cat while her sis and new husband are away. This is high excitement indeed for Molly.

As far as men are concerned, Molly must be under a black cloud. She doesn't want her ex-husband to find her, fearing that she'll revert to form and lend him money. On the ferry to Ocracoke, she begins talking to a man who later turns out to be very married. What next? She's soon to find out.

A severe storm is wrecking all of Rafe Webber's plans. He wants to get to Ocracoke Island to meet his brother's new bride. All of Rafe's instincts are on red alert. The new bride is probably a gold digger and wants his brother's trust find. He's going to appear unannounced and try to irritate her so much that her true colors will show. He's bringing everything for a turkey dinner and plans to invade her kitchen and make a nuisance of himself. Trouble is, the bride isn't there. He instead finds her sister, Molly.

Rafe soon discovers that Molly is a truly nice woman who's rock steady.She's been a role model for her younger sisters and is a nurturing care-giver. He certainly senses that Molly doesn't have any gold digger genes and is glad to help when the sleezeball ex-husband does find Molly.

The birds, Pete and Repete, add comic relief and are foul fowl, if you'll pardon the pun. Molly's sister rescued them, thinking that their vocabulary would make them hard to adopt. After all, how many people are going to be enamored by birds who call you bad-ass as you walk through the door?

What Rafe doesn't seem to notice is that Molly is . . . well, overweight. And if this gorgeous, devil-may-care bachelor finds her attractive, I've got to wonder if Molly has a faulty mirror. This book could have been subtitled A Culinary Feast or If It Doesn't Move, Eat It. If Rafe isn't cooking tasty and fattening dishes, he's taking Molly to gourmet restaurants. While Molly tries to resist . . . well, let's just say that the food always wins.

Molly had to be a care-giver to her younger sisters when she was young herself. Her self-image is faulty, so perhaps this is more a problem rather than her weight.

By the time she was free to be herself, it was too late. Ignoring the deficiencies in her social development, she had made one blind leap for the brass ring and missed, and now she was scared stiff of jumping again for fear of breaking something irreparable.

More to Love doesn't take weight problems seriously. Don't buy it thinking that it's the story of a fat woman who finds love. If Rafe doesn't see her as overweight, then I'm not sure she really is. Add to the fact that food is almost a main character itself, and you've got a message book . . . without a message.

--Linda Mowery

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