Did You Say Married?! by Kathie DeNosky
(Silh. Desire #1296, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-76296-8
Some of my fellow reviewers have the ability to dissect a story according to its plot, POV, characters, dialogue, setting and background, prose and other nuances. Unlike these cerebral people, my yardstick for liking a book is pretty basic. If I like the characters and they don't act stooopid (immature, wallowing in pity parties or myriad other reasons that cause me to want to slap them silly), then the book works for me. Liking the people is essential for me to like the book. Notice that this has a three heart rating. My first impression of the heroine was that of a shrewish prima donna but I grew to like her better. It just came a bit too late to redeem the story for me.

Chance Warren wakes up the Morning After with a hangover and a desirable woman in his bed. Thinking that he's dreaming, he starts getting amorous. When the dream woman starts screaming, Chance wakes up in a hurry, only to discover that the Ice Maiden, Kristen Lassiter, is in his bed.

Kristen is in Las Vegas for the Professional Bull Riders awards banquet. Her dad's company, Sagebrush Boots, has a vested interest in All Things Cowboy. Waking up the next morning in Chance Warren's hotel room is not one of her finer moments. In fact, she can't even remember how she got there. She does know that her daddy, the most influential man in her life, has warned her to stay away from Chance, an ex-rodeo cowboy and now stockman.

These two part company hurriedly, with Chance deciding that he's been dismissed as a minor inconvenience. As he's getting ready to leave, he discovers an envelope with an official looking document inside. Uh-oh, it's a marriage license . . . joining him in Holy Matrimony . . . to the Ice Maiden.

Chance tracks down Kristen and convinces her that they need to stay married for a while. After all, she could be pregnant. If that's supposed to endear him to the romantic in Kristen, then he needs lessons. She reluctantly agrees and travels with Chance to his ranch near Amarillo. She's sure she's not pregnant and will leave as soon as she knows. The word Annulment looms large in her plans.

As I stated, Kristen was not a favorite of mine. She seemed too shrill and too uptight. Basically I found her boring. For the longest time she's in limbo, attracted to Chance and not admitting it. She's also unsure of how she'll handle her demanding father, one who comes to Chance's ranch and demands that she obtain an annulment. She does manage to hold her own against Dear Old Dad, but I'm wondering if it's like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. Dear Old Dad mellows, too, but as with the Chance and Kristen, the changes in attitude seem forced and rushed, not at all natural.

Debut author Kathie DeNosky scores high on POV, dialogue, setting and background, with good descriptive writing. The plot is a bit too familiar, with Romeo and Juliet comparisons to a family feud. It's the characters that ultimately disappoint. Chance is too laid back, only partially formed. Kristen initially is the Ice Maiden. By the time she finally melts, my impressions were too negative to really care what happened to her.

--Linda Mowery

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