Assigment: Groom!

The Cowboy & the Shotgun Bride

Duets 2

Mistletoe Daddy

A Real-Live Sheikh

I Do! I Do! by Jacqueline Diamond
(Harl. American #833, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-16833-0
Never has a book been more appropriately titled, for the heroine in I Do! I Do! desperately wants to get married and have children. She can, in fact, think of little else. Luckily for her, she finds an obliging hero.

Gina Kennedy is a neonatal nurse who is about to turn thirty. Still a virgin, she is strongly committed to saving herself for the man she will eventually marry. She also longs to have children of her own, but since she isn't currently dating anyone, that seems an unlikely prospect in the near future. Until, that is, Mason Blackstone appears on the scene, sweeps her off her feet, and offers Gina a chance to make all of her dreams come true...

Mason Blackstone is a thirty-four-year-old rancher who is devoted to raising his recently orphaned twin nieces. Mason's sister Marge, however, has other ideas. Suffering from the "empty nest syndrome," she vows to take the girls from Mason's loving care. Mason retaliates by marrying his nieces' neonatal nurse Gina Kennedy. But when all is said and done and Mason is granted custody of the twins, will he be able to hold on to the wife he has grown to love? Or will a woman as delicate as Gina leave him and the hard life on the ranch behind?

One of the major problems with I Do! I Do! is that the heroine Gina is very difficult for any mortal woman to relate to. She is a saint, pure and simple; a gross caricature of Victorian era femininity better left in that time period. Gina never raises her voice, never says an unkind word about anybody, and spends all of her time do-gooding. She almost always wears pink and never eats anything that's bad for her (she even turned down a slice of her own wedding cake because it's too sweet). She doesn't drink, smoke, or curse, and rarely wears make-up. She avoids confrontation, opting to cry into her pillow instead. She never asks anything of anyone, but is there for the needs of others without hesitation. And she has never, not even once in her entire twenty-nine years and eleven months of life, had an impure thought about a man.

Good lord, is Gina boring.

As a reader, you may often times find yourself wondering what planet Gina has come from. Wherever it was, the place was dreadfully dull. How, for instance, can a contemporary romance reader even attempt to relate to a fictional woman who has never entertained an impure thought in thirty years when most of us have been entertaining them since before we understood what they were?

Gina's innocent attributes aside, her credibility as a character was still lacking. The author kept making references to how tough and sturdy she was, but failed to demonstrate these qualities in the heroine's thoughts and actions. Instead, we are asked to believe that she is made of tough stuff merely because she has opted to become a rancher's wife. Unfortunately, it is never fully explained what A has to do with B. It's not as if the hero Mason has his wife out on the range roping cattle and breaking in horses. She is in the house all day long knitting.

In addition to the heroine's lack of believability, a lot of the events that unfold around the characters in the book seem implausible. In one of Gina's more mortal moments, for example, she decides against marrying Mason because she has always wanted to marry a man that loves her. She is finally cajoled into going through with it when she decides to help Mason earn points in the media by proclaiming her intention to marry him to the paparazzi. (The media shows up to ask questions about the twins and the custody issue on the day of their release from the hospital.) Now why, oh why, would the newspapers and television stations of Austin, Texas, care about this issue to begin with? It wasn't as if either Gina or Mason were famous or anything. Perhaps it was a slow news day or something. Unfortunately, the logic is never fully explained.

I Do! I Do! has its good moments. There are a couple of scenes toward the book's end that are truly funny. And Mason, the hero, is an incredibly sweet man. (Dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to women, but sweet nevertheless.) Overall, however, the lack of believability in the characters and events of I Do! I Do! was a real turnoff.

--Tina Engler

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