Trusting a Texan

Shotgun Wedding by Leann Harris
Silh. Int. Mom. #1026, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-27096-8
Shotgun Wedding opens in a hospital room where Emory Sweeney, the driving force behind Texas Chic, a multi-million-dollar retail business, is telling Texas Chic employee, Renee Girouard, that she is his illegitimate daughter, that he wants her to marry Matthew "Hawk" Hawkins, and that he intends for her to inherit his entire estate

Emory, who had befriended and employed Renee when she was in college, had also taken Hawk, the son of his gardener, under his wing and groomed him for success. Now Hawk is not only a cop, but a lawyer as well. Mindful of his great debt to Emory, he agrees to marry Renee and become her protector.

For Renee, the choice is not so easy. She and Hawk had had a flaming night of passion two months earlier. When confronted with the thought of a permanent relationship, Hawk had turned tail and fled. Renee wants love and marriage, and while Hawk seems to be offering sex and protection.

Renee is persuaded to agree to Emory's scheme after an unsuccessful attempt on her life. Days later, she and Hawk are married. At a grand gala after the wedding, Emory announces that Renee is his daughter, she will inherit, and if she dies, his estate will go to charity. Emory’s niece and nephew, sister Eloise, and husband, who have been salivating over the prospect of an inheritance, are enraged. Now the race is on to discover which of the relatives is willing to kill for a millon-dollar inheritance.

The killer is easy to spot from the onset, and the angst of the main characters is predictable and omnipresent. Hawk’s derives from an earlier failed marriage where he had been married for money, and from his childhood as the product of a shotgun wedding. The parallels to his "shotgun wedding" to Renee are all too obvious and soon become tiresome.

Very little happens in this story other than finding the killer in the last few pages, and inching the romance along. The pace is choppy, the segues from scene to scene are sometimes nonexistent, and the dialogue reflects a sameness from page to page as Renee and Hawk internally agonize over the differences in their expectations for their marriage. Their attitudes on this subject are about all you ever learn about these two characters.

Despite these flaws, Shotgun Wedding could have still been salvaged if the romantic tension had been more credibly developed, or if had been possible to believe that an aged man, dying of cancer, would spring miraculously from his hospital bed to host a wedding party and announce to Houston society that he was making his illegitimate daughter a moving target.

--Thea Davis

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