AKA: Marriage
Diagnosis: Daddy
Hitched by Christmas

A Way with Women by Jule McBride
(Harl. Tempt. #830, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25930-1
Jule McBride's A Way with Women is the next book in the series about men who advertise for wives in Texas Men magazine, a "publication" whose quality had been questionable on occasion. This is one of those times.

I've never had any use for the Pollyanna adage, the one that goes "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all." If I suddenly decided to follow this bit of advice, I'd stop writing this review . . . right now!

Books that start off being annoying and continue to be so are real pains to read. If I had picked this book up at a bookstore and read a few pages, I'd have put it back on the shelf and walked away, a happier person. We all know that words can get past the spell-check, grammar-check, etc. Most of this story got past the logic-check. Let me explain.

Harper Moody is postmistress of Pine Hills, Texas. She's thirty-three, a young widow and a mother of a sixteen-year-old son. Everybody thinks that her late husband was the father of her son, but they're wrong. Her son's father is Macon McCann, her high school sweetheart, a man who's suddenly making Harper's life miserable.

Macon has moved back to Pine Hills from Houston. His father is in poor health and will only slow down from ranching when Macon marries. So here's this gorgeous, rich bachelor who advertises for a wife in Texas Men magazine, with a mucho-flattering photo, no less.

Harper is aghast that Macon is receiving all of this mail from eligible women. What she does next is not only stupid, it's illegal, too. She steams open the letters and replies, telling each woman why Macon wouldn't make a good husband. Suddenly Macon is wondering why nobody is responding to his ad.

But a few letters get past her and into Macon's hands. Macon decides to invite the women to his ranch for an interview, a wife audition. About this time Macon learns that he's the father of Harper's son. What truly made me want to groan is Harper's reaction to Macon's wife hunt. Okay, she tells him, one of these women will be our son's step-mama, and therefore I've got a right to interview the women.

Does any of this sound funny? Romantic? The least bit interesting? If so, then this story may be just what you're looking for.

Rather than writing at length about why I didn't care for A Way with Women, I think I'll let my plot synopsis speak for itself. This plot line is silly, with shallow characters who have less depth than a dandelion's root system. At times there's a circus feel, with people competing to see who can be the most ridiculous. I'd say Harper and Macon might have to share that award.

This is one issue of Texas Men magazine that should never have hit the stands.

--Linda Mowery

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