has also reviewed:

Diagnosis: Daddy

AKA: Marriage by Jule McBride
(Harl. Amer. #733, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-16733-4
Delilah Fontenont, alias Lillian Smith was a wanted woman.

Undercover detective Shane Holiday had been on her trail for seven years trying to solve his Uncle Silas' murder. Silas, a Louisiana cop, was killed the night Delilah married gangster Sam Ramsey and ran off the $3 million of the mob's money. She escaped to New York and went to work for Wall Street wizard Jefferson Lawrence under an assumed name.

Although she was a wanted woman, "Lillian Smith" desperately wanted to adopt a baby. She had her heart set on a young boy at the Big Apple Adoption Agency. However, the caseworker wasn't optimistic about her chances to adopt as a single woman. Shane, who also worked at the agency as a part-time security guard, and saw this as a chance to get closer to Lillian.

"She'd wanted a child for a long time, probably badly enough to consider marrying a stranger to get one . . . By tonight, he hoped to be living in Lillian's apartment researching every aspect of her life. Undercover, there was nothing he'd leave untouched. Nothing."

Uh huh.

AKA: Marriage is the fourth story in Harlequin American Romance's "Big Apple Babies" series. Seven mysterious matchmaking millionaires secretly started the "Big Apple Babies' adoption agency in Manhattan. Others in the series are Mission: Motherhood, Verdict: Parenthood and Diagnosis: Daddy.

Shane Holiday is the brother of Winston "Doc" Holiday, the fun-loving hero of Diagnosis: Daddy. The action in AKA: Marriage takes place during the same time frame as Diagnosis: Daddy. Many of the unanswered questions in that book are answered in this one. But, like the brothers Holiday, these books are as different as night and day.

Shane is more sullen than his brother and the atmosphere of this book reflects his mood. I couldn't really warm up to the relationship between Shane and Lillian. Marriage-of- convenience stories develop because of each party stands to gain from the arrangement. But I was very uncomfortable with the fact that Shane and Lillian would put a child's life and well-being in jeopardy to get what they wanted. Lillian was on the run from the mob and the law. The child she wanted so badly could be harmed or left motherless if she was arrested or killed. As a lawman, Shane was duty-bound to arrest her. He knew that his marriage to Lillian was short-lived and the child who was renamed "Shane Jr." would be uprooted yet again once she was arrested.

Beyond that, I could never believe a woman as smart as Lillian wouldn't be more suspicious of a stranger, a former detective who offered to help her no matter how badly she wanted to adopt a baby.

Jule McBride is a gifted writer. When she's on target, her dialogue sparkles and her characters come to life. I really wanted to like this book but all the elements didn't come together for me. I'd think twice about AKA: Marriage.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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