Switched at the Altar
by Metsy Hingle
(Silhouette Desire # 1133, $3.75, PG-13)
ISBN 0-373-76133-3
Switched at the Altar is the second book in the Right Bride/Wrong Groom series. The first one, also by Metsy Hingle, is The Kidnapped Bride, #1103. I have no idea if the two are connected. It doesn't matter. This one stands fully on its own.

Chicago attorney Alexander Stone, a self-appointed surrogate father to his younger brother, is determined that his brother will not drop out of law school and marry actress Desiree Mason. The very thought leaves a bad taste in his mouth. Alex is afraid that his brother is about to make the same mistake that their father did, marrying often and not well. Alex has also convinced himself that Desiree is a gold digger who wants her greedy claws on the family fortune.

Charging in to save the day, Alex travels to SmallTown Louisiana to rescue his brother. He interrupts his brother's wedding, just in time. Or so he thinks. Seems that what he's done is interrupt a dress rehearsal of Desiree's first performance in her newly opened dinner theater. His brother isn't even in town. This hard headed hunk will not believe Desiree's explanation, that of only being good friends with his brother. To compound the problem, Alex lusts after this woman. Painfully . . . deeply . . . sensuously.

This story begins with such promise. As intrepid readers, we know that Desiree is not in love with the kid brother. We also know that she and Alex will ultimately get together. This story didn't quite live up to my personal expectations, after its rousing, fun-filled beginning. Let me tell you why. I'd rather have NO conflict in a story. That's not gonna' happen, I know. If conflict has to be in evidence, then I'd rather it be external. No such luck. The conflict here is all internal. And it's all from the hard headed hunk who thinks that there's no such thing as love . . . and if there is, he wants a guarantee.

Metsy Hingle didn't compound my disappointment, though. Desiree is a compelling heroine. While she doesn't let Alex walk over her, she's astute enough to recognize the cause of his wounds. He's never experienced true parental support or unconditional love. So she vows that she will show him that her love is true, deep and abiding. Yes, she wavers a few times. Hard headed hunks do make a rational female see red on occasion, particularly when said hunks keep drawing the wrong conclusion and won't even listen to any explanations.

Okay, putting my prejudices aside, this was a fun book. Nobody was malicious, there were no distracting sub plots and the few secondary characters were easy to remember. I think one of my fellow reviewers referred to a lust-o-meter. For a category romance, this rated high on the lust-o-meter scale. I just wish Alex had been thinking with his heart rather than his glands. His glandular condition lasted for most of the book.

Can I recommend this story? You betcha. Just know that I wanted more cuddling and less conflict, more trust and less tension, more affection and less aggravation.

--Linda Mowery

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