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The Marriage Merger
by Vivian Leiber
(Silh. Romance #1366, $3.50, G) ISBN 0-373-19366-1
The Marriage Merger is the fifth book in the Loving the Boss miniseries. Six women dream of marrying their bosses, and so far five have been successful.

Calling herself nine kinds of a wimp, Patricia Peel is trying to gather enough courage to ask her boss out. She's just found out that Sam Wainwright is no longer engaged. She and Sam have become friends and from her perspective, the man's easy to love. She knows that she has to say something before other women know he's free and begin their chase.

If Patricia only knew that her timing could be right on the money. Sam's boss, a man he respects and admires deeply, is retiring. Sam's big promotion is looming, and his boss is advising that he speed up his marriage plans. Oh, help! There are no marriage plans now.

Sam explains his dilemma to Patricia, who immediately sees where he's leading. She agrees to this 'pretend engagement', knowing that it will give her time to be around Sam, time for him to recognize that she'd be more than a great fiancée, she'd be a great wife. When Sam's boss discovers who Sam's fiancée is, he's delighted and wants the wedding to be on his estate, before he leaves for his retirement trip . . . in two weeks.

Patricia knows that Sam had been the playboy type in his younger days. She also knows that her gray gabardine suits with their white oxford blouses are not what playboys usually like. Sam, sensing that her wardrobe isn't up to the retirement and engagement parties they'll be attending, offers to take her shopping. Hooray. Here's a woman who's sensible enough to accept a heartfelt offer and doesn't let her pride stand in her way. And then she goes one better. She goes to a stylist who gives her a complete make over. Yes, she's been the swan in the ugly ducking gray gabardine suit.

There are touches of humor, of whimsy and of intense revelations. Patricia, at twenty-nine, is sexually inexperienced. Sam decides that they've got to drop the corporate mentality and become comfortable touching one another. This includes kissing practice, something that jolts Patricia. She's just been listing her fictitious beaus when Sam surprises her.

"Could I kiss you?"
"No, I'd like to make an appointment."

Can't you just picture a grinning, gorgeous hunk making this teasing comment?

We're also treated to a sneak peak of the last book in the Loving the Boss series. Sophia Shepherd will be the assistant to the new owner, but has never met him. She fantasizes about marrying him, yet disconcertingly finds herself attracted to the new man from the mail room.

The Marriage Merger was running smoothly and bam, a road block. Sam decides that he's not marriage material. In a poignant scene as Patricia pleads for their relationship to continue, he tells her, "Even if I'm telling you that I'm not the kind of man who loves a woman completely? Even if I'm saying my career and my ambitions will always come first?" Sometimes these smoke screens can be mighty annoying.

Want a story that's gentle, with a sweet yet sensible heroine and a hero whose head is just a little bit hard? If you're a fan of marriage of convenience stories, this one just might please you.

--Linda Mowery

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