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Cassidy's Courtship
by Sharon Mignerey
(Silh. Int. Moments 864, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-207864-1
*****
Without a doubt Cassidy's Courtship is one of the best category books I've read in a long, long time. Mignerey is a new author for Silhouette and one hopes they have her under contract for dozens of books. Cassidy's Courtship is factually accurate with appealing characters, a tight plot, appropriate dialogue, seamless segues and mounting sexual tension. All of this plus a new and different plot line!

Denver attorney Cole Cassidy is on a fast track to becoming a ruthless robot. As a junior member of his law firm, he is asked to represent Harvey Bates, a plaintiff in a bad check case who appears to have a real vendetta against the defendant, Brenna James. Citing a Colorado law that provides for treble damages plus costs (and pitted against an incompetent attorney who raises no defense), Cole wins a judgment against Brenna of nearly ten thousand dollars approximately 6 times the original face amount of the check.

At the signing of the final stipulation agreement, Cole discovers that Brenna's attorney had not explained all the terms of the document one of which is an admission of fraud. Based on Cole's disclosure, Brenna refuses to sign. Later that day, Cole is offered two choices quit or resign. So, quit he does.

Nine months later, while investigating background in a sports bar for one of his cases, Cole finds that Brenna is his waitress. She is not overjoyed to see him, but her presence re-ignites the initial attraction he felt for her.

Waiting around outside the bar at closing time hoping to get to know her better, Cole saves Brenna when she is accosted on her way to the bus stop. Upon learning that she has no car, he drives her home.

When Cole asks Brenna out on a date, he discovers that she has no time to date because she is working three jobs to pay off Bates' judgment. Now, even more chagrined at his role in her difficult life, Cole begins a studied courtship. Brenna is hopelessly attracted to him, but determined to hide it.

Brenna harbors a secret that riddles her with shame: she is unable to read. Believing that the moment that Cole discovers her secret he will disappear from her life, Brenna employs the usual coping strategies of the illiterate to mask the condition.

I have worked with the illiterate, and although I have not been involved in the Adult Literacy Program as Mignerey has, from my personal experience, it doesn't get any more accurate than this book.

In an impressive debut with Silhouette, Sharon Mignerey reminds us of a very important statistic: 1 out of every 7 Americans is functionally illiterate. Long after you forget the dynamics of the tender lover story that Mignerey weaves you will remember how artfully Brenna disguised her inability to read. For so many reasons, this book becomes a keeper for me.

--Thea Davis


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