Temporary Engagement

Cooper's Wife

Last Chance Bride

Malcolm's Honor

Halfway to Paradise

Bluebonnet Bride by Jillian Hart
(Harl. Historical #586, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29186-8
You know how certain foods just hit the spot? They aren't very exciting but they're familiar and we like them. At the risk of sounding trite, Bluebonnet Bride is a lot like a favorite comfort food.

Linnea Holmstrom has cared for her blind, elderly mother alone ever since the death of her father. Though she does so without complaint, she can't help but dream of a life and family of her own. That is not to be, however, because Linnea was the center of a terrible scandal as a teenager and the townsfolk just barely tolerate her, let alone anything else.

One night, as she is watching the wild horses run, Linnea encounters Seth Gatlin. Seth once had the life Linnea dreamed of but lost it all to sickness. He has come to the Montana Territory to help his stepsister Ginny get back on her feet after her abusive husband abandoned her and her son. It's not too long before Seth realizes that Linnea may be the woman who can resurrect his long dormant desire for love and family.

Don't expect a lot of flash or action in Bluebonnet Bride. The story focuses on Seth and Linnea's growing relationship without any additional subplots or intrigues. There is an attempt to create conflict between Seth and Linnea in the form of Ginny, but it doesn't have any teeth. Ginny's character had not really had much action up to that point, so when the book suddenly comes in to her point of view, no one particular cares about her opinion. The conflict ends about as quickly as it began.

After a time, Linnea's selflessness began to get very frustrating. While one can understand her loyalty to her mother, her willingness to give up every shred of happiness for duty became unbelievable. It was obviously a formulaic device in order to produce the "black moment" and separation of the main characters.

Seth also has a tendency for martyrdom, but he at least checks himself once in a while. Even though he has promised to take care of Ginny, he refuses to let her attempts at guilt get a rise out of him. In short, he doesn't let his family duty prevent him from courting the woman he loves.

This courting is probably my favorite part of the book. Seth uses humor and kindness to win over Linnea, rather than the usual "awakening-her-hidden-desires" route. One gets a real sense that this relationship can go the distance because of its gradual rise from friendship.

Readers will find no surprises in Bluebonnet Bride. There is something to be said for familiarity though. As a read, Bluebonnet Bride is not unlike one of Linnea's quilts, warm and comfortable.

--Anne Bulin

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