Father Figure

Just for the Night

Still Hitched, Cowboy

Wedding Roulette by Leandra Logan
(Harl. American #960, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-16960-4
Leandra Logan explores the worlds of Las Vegas and franchises in this entertaining romance. She has done so with a few clichés, some familiar characters, but some interesting twists, and no wedding chapels. What a treat!

Krista Mattson has an interesting life in Minneapolis. She is a successful businesswoman who heads her own promotions company. She is smart, cute and blessed with a nice family, including her two eccentric aunts. These aunts, Beverly and Rachel, collaborate on a newspaper column that gives advice to the lovelorn. Their front is a sultry, exotic make-over picture of Krista and their byline reads “Simona Says”.

For several years, Krista has received a salary, made a few public appearances and essentially built her business using the money from the advice column. Her aunts have enjoyed the fun and challenge of writing an advice column and no one has gotten hurt…until now.

Michael Collins is an entrepreneur extraordinaire. He owns a very successful franchise of the Decadent Delights donut shops and has aspirations to grow. The owner of the company, Mr. Gerald Stewart, is a self-made millionaire who highly values family. Married for 30 plus years to his wife, he was devastated when she died. He wants all his managers to have the same happiness he had.

Michael Collins is one such manager. He has found a fiancée and is prepared to take her to the annual convention in Las Vegas. He even sent a teaser to the company newsletter. But Simona Says has done him wrong, telling his now ex-fiancée that she needs to ditch this workaholic. Michael threatens to sue and demands a face-to-face meeting.

Krista is forced to meet him, acting her role as Simona. In one of those twists of plots, Michael gets Krista to agree to pose as his fiancée for the convention. And off they go.

The story follows the couple as they meet friends of Michael’s who are truly more like rivals. Everyone at the convention is vying for favor with Mr. Stewart, and hopes to win the “new doughnut” contest. Throw in some business intrigue, Krista’s two aunts who follow hoping to serve as matchmakers for Krista and Michael and Gerald’s attraction to one of the aunts and you have the essence of Wedding Roulette.

Krista is a strong multi-dimensional character who struggles with hiding her intelligence behind what she believes is the public expectation for Simona. But it is hard to keep her down and her ideas and knowledge of marketing shines through. She is one heroine every working woman can relate to in many ways.

Michael starts off predictable and seemingly one-dimensional. But as the story develops, so does his character. His background is explored, he starts to see changes and depth to Krista and doesn’t understand it. However, he is open and honest enough to explore the possibilities. He accepts change and even starts to smarten up in the end. He grew on me until I truly enjoyed both his vulnerability and his hard work ethic.

The aunts are fairly predictable, but have enough spice to keep you guessing what they will do next. Gerald too, grows on you, blossoming into multi-dimensions before your eyes.

Pleasantly surprising was the lack of clichés often seen in the Las Vegas setting. There is really only one gambling scene, nobody runs off to a wedding chapel and there are no Elvises in sight. The story could have been set in any resort city and been just as effective.

On the downside is the continuation of the false story about who really writes Simona Says and what role Krista is playing. Even as the relationship between Krista and Michael develops, Krista doesn’t trust him enough to tell him the truth, certain he will freak out and lose all the advantages he has won. This lack of faith, and the subsequent handling of the truth, i.e. the big misunderstanding and separation, dragged down a pleasant read. The ending salvages it some, but not enough for recommended status.

Overall, Wedding Roulette spins the wheel with an enjoyable story but doesn’t hit the jackpot.

--Shirley Lyons

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