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The Mercenary and the New Mom
by Merline Lovelace
(Silh. Int. Mom. #908, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07908-7
****
The Mercenary and the New Mom is the fifth and final book of the Follow That Baby cross-line miniseries which includes books from all five Silhouette lines: a Special Edition, a Romance, a Desire, a Yours Truly and an Intimate Moments. I'm just wondering why this saga-like series about the powerful Wentworths, an Oklahoma oil dynasty, wasn't promoted more. Until I saw the cover of this book, I had no idea that the series had concluded.

Reading this series in order would have brought the Wentworth family much more clearly into focus. This could almost be considered a family chronicle, and I'm sorry to say that I missed three-fifths of it. But the two books I did read were totally satisfying and memorable.

The third book, Elizabeth Bevarly's The Sheriff and the Imposter Bride (SD1184), is the only other one I've read. It briefly introduced us to Sabrina Jensen. In book three, Sabrina was seven months pregnant and running from the family of her baby's father. Her baby's father, Jack Wentworth, was reported killed in an off-shore oil well explosion, and Sabrina had been warned that his powerful grandfather wanted custody of her baby. So she ran.

Somewhere in book four, I'm conjecturing that Mr. Wentworth, Sr. managed to convince Sabrina that he was one of the good guys. He was offering Sabrina protection from the villains who wanted to harm her and the baby, the same miscreants who had been after Jack.

This story opens with Sabrina and three-week-old Elizabeth living on the Wentworth estate, enjoying the safety and security. On the day before Elizabeth's christening, Jack Wentworth reappears. Jack did survive the explosion, only to be held hostage for many months by "sadistic fanatics with no agenda but terror." He's returned to claim Sabrina and to ferret out the traitor who sold him out.

While the prologue is set in the present, most of the book is the backstory of Jack and Sabrina's first meeting and leads us through their intense attraction until the fateful night that Jack was duplicitously lured to the off-shore oil rig. A delightful section of the story deals with Sabrina's desire to restore the diner where she works into an authentic replica of its glory days when Route 66 was America's highway.

This is an example of my favorite kind of romance book. There's action aplenty but the attraction between the two leads is so strong that they're the true focus. I found it to be more character-driven than action-driven, although there's enough action to keep you interested. Sabrina is an appealing character, working toward her college degree while restoring the diner in her limited spare time. Jack is more than a handsome wallet. His money is not what interests Sabrina. This man is magnetic with a capital M.

The villain's identity is mentioned in the opening teaser. Even if you didn't read this, the villain might as well carry a placard around, much like someone on a picket line, saying, "I'm the bad guy. See how evil, smarmy and twisted I am."

As soon as I realized that this was a five-book series, I did a search to find the missing titles. No luck. When I looked through the book to find the other titles in this miniseries, nada zip zilch. I find that extremely annoying. How can I find the books to complete the series if I can't even find their titles? Many thanks to Merline Lovelace who kindly supplied the missing information. The two books I read were such fun reads that I wish I'd read the books in order. That's my recommendation.

1. The Rancher and the Amnesiac Bride, Joan Elliott Pickart, SSE 1141
2. The Daddy and the Baby Doctor, Kristin Morgan, SR 1333
3. The Sheriff and the Imposter Bride, Elizabeth Bevarly, SD1184
4. The Millionaire and the Pregnant Pauper, Christie Ridgway, SYT 84
5. The Mercenary and the New Mom, Merline Lovelace, SIM 908

Those who've read the whole series may know that I am missing a lot of backstory, but I was able to appreciate The Mercenary and the New Mom nonetheless. As Jack and Sabrina drove off into the sunset along Sabrina's beloved Route 66, I was glad for them. They deserve the best.

--Linda Mowery


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