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Marriage on His Terms

 
Their Marriage Contract
by Val Daniels
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1248, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-24248-4
****
Their Marriage Contract takes the "marriage of convenience" story and puts a real-life twist on it. What would really happen if a modern-day couple decided to get married because it would make life easier? What would such a marriage be like?

Josh Maxwell has come to the small Kansas City suburb of Mission Park to be the new city attorney. All around him are happily married couples, from his beloved sister to his new boss, and Josh has pretty much decided that, at the age of thirty-six, what he needs is a wife. Someone pretty and pleasant, with whom he can spend quiet evenings. Decent meals and regular sex would be a bonus.

Before the reader succumbs to the urge to heave this book across the room, let me say that the author made this seem plausible, not shallow. Josh knows full well that being madly in love doesn't guarantee a happily-ever-after, and has handled enough divorce cases to prove it. His belief is that love can grow if two people work at it. Now all he needs to do is find a wife candidate.

His sister's college friend, Marisa Reynolds, seems to fit the bill admirably. Marisa is a never-married mother of a nine-year-old boy, and she's pretty, smart, and pleasant. On their first date, Josh finds himself proposing marriage. Marisa can hardly believe that a handsome, successful man like Josh would be interested in her, but her son Ryan is captivated by him, and before long she finds herself agreeing to his plan.

Life, however, has other ideas in mind. Josh and Marisa make their marriage work in a mechanical sense, but they'll have to forget about their carefully-charted plans and learn to communicate if they have any chance of making this into a love match.

If you are not a fan of Big Misunderstandings and Lack of Communication as plot devices, stop here and go find something else to read, because those are the plot. I was skeptical when I picked up this book, knowing what was going to come for Josh and Marisa, but their journey to understanding is worthwhile and bittersweet. If such a marriage were to take place, these are exactly the hurdles that a couple would face, and presenting them in a realistic yet charming manner made for an entertaining read. As Josh and Marisa hesitate and fumble and take two steps forward, then one step back, we're drawn into their story and get to know them well.

Kudos to Val Daniels for presenting an unusual and delightful story, with nary a cowboy or secret baby in sight, thank heavens. Instead, readers are in for a treat as Josh and Marisa learn that Their Marriage Contract will take a lot of work, but offers rich rewards and possibly a love for a lifetime. This is category romance in top form.

--Cathy Sova


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