Mountain Magic

Silver Lining by Susan Hardy
(Bouquet #60, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-82176-670-8
Silver Lining is Susan Hardy's second Bouquet book. While I really enjoyed her first one, the second one had me shaking my head at times, wondering what calamity was going to befall the heroine next. This is a case of plot overload.

Katherine Spencer, child psychologist and wealthy young woman, can add another description: kidnap victim. She knows she's going to be held for ransom and also knows that nobody's going to pay it. If she doesn't rescue herself, it's the end of the line. So she escapes and does a first-rate job. It does help that Dumb and Dumber are her kidnappers and have conveniently left the car keys in the lock, aiding her escape.

So here's Katherine driving down the road, enjoying her freedom and pleased as punch that she's outwitted the bad guys when WHAM!, she runs into a tornado. Or vice versa. Anyway, when she awakes, she has no idea where she is or who she is. She just knows that she likes the hunk who's found her.

Tom Weaver and his five-year-old son Jamey are witnessing the same tornado and rescue a young woman who's unconscious. Jamey christens her 船orothy' because of the tornado and her colorful shoes. Snakeskin . . . ruby slippers . . . no matter. They're red and that's all that Jamey needs as evidence. Tom, who's recently divorced and with a significant amount of bitterness, takes 船orothy' back to his farm. Even though the sheriff warns him about this woman with the convenient amnesia, Tom feels an attraction that he's not going to deny.

船orothy' as a heroine is just a bit too much 善erils of Pauline.' It's hard to accept that one woman can be chased by a bull, make a mess while washing clothes, use the wrong kind of soap in the dishwasher, use a sewing machine for the first time and make a passable lion costume and one for 船orothy', too. And then there's mixing up the dog food with the sandwich spread, using the exploding vacuum cleaner, being a surrogate birth coach with a mama pig and . . . .

Tom isn't drawn with as much exaggeration, but he's the kind of hero who has to be convinced. His first wife walked out on him, and he sees 船orothy' as the same kind of woman, a soft, wealthy woman who won't want to stay with him. He laments at one point that he's always attracted to the wrong kind of woman. His wishy-washy attitude becomes annoying, especially when he thinks that 船orothy' is married, and then does nothing to control his lust.

Silver Lining started off so well. It was great to applaud a heroine who gets herself out of a fix. The Wizard of Oz theme could have been successful, too. What irritated me in a hurry was 船orothy's' ineptitude. One or two incidents could have been comic relief, but before long it was easy to anticipate that something was going to go wrong. We just had to wait to see what it was.

Those of you who enjoy literary pratfalls or who want ample comic relief from dark, dreary books may indeed find a silver lining. More character development and less plot silliness would have indeed made Silver Lining shine.

--Linda Mowery

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