The Diamond Bride
by Carole Mortimer
(Harl.Presents #1966, $3.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-119663-6
Annie Fletcher is a former kindergarten teacher hired by the Diamond family matriarch to care for eight-year-old Jessica after the previous nanny left abruptly. Annie's charge is a precocious little girl who secretly prays that her father soon will remarry. Jessica's mother died in a boating accident when she was a baby. Rufus, her father, is an investigative reporter whose most recent assignment has kept him away from home for three months.

Rufus and Annie have not met. She was hired after his departure and apparently there are no pictures of him. When Annie encounters him on the grounds, she assumes he is trespassing.

Annie has had time to meet and be smitten with Jessica's uncle Anthony during her brief tenure with the Diamonds. Anthony is a handsome, self-absorbed attorney who has squandered his inheritance and is about to marry his wealthy boss' daughter in order to ensure his expensive lifestyle. Annie is unaware of his engagement and is flattered by Anthony's attention – until his fiancée comes to visit and make wedding plans.

When Rufus returns, he is surprised to learn that the former nanny has quit. Rufus is convinced that Annie is involved with Anthony and takes every opportunity to warn her of the consequences of such a relationship. When Anthony refuses to break his engagement and asks her to be his mistress, Annie realizes Rufus was right. In what seems like moments or hours later, Annie is in love with Rufus.

How different were her feelings towards him now from when he had first arrived home – was it only three days ago? Then she had believed herself in love with his brother. How weak and insipid were the emotions she had felt towards Anthony compared to what she now felt for Rufus."

The novel has two big misunderstandings and the hint of a murder, none of which sustained my interest. "The first Diamond bride dead, Celia becoming the wicked stepmother, Rufus's own bride tainted in a way he would never have been happy with, and she a Diamond bride who had also died."

So why would anyone want to be a Diamond bride?

The Diamond Bride is a patchwork quilt of clichés and caricatures. There is the wicked stepmother, the rakish half-brother, the innocent nanny and whispered family secrets. 39 year-old Rufus Diamond is worldly, mature and possesses a sense of humor. He and his daughter are The Diamond Bride's most likable characters. The fickle 22-year-old nanny often seems more childlike than her 8-year-old charge.

The novel is set in the British countryside and there are early references to Jane Eyre and Rochester. However, it is not until nearly 30 pages into the novel that the reader surmises that this is a contemporary story through references to x-rays and denim jeans and Mercedes.

The pacing is slow, despite the fact that the story is occurs over a four-day period. The 1 85-page book seemed to take longer to complete because it was so easy to put down. Reading should not be a chore.

I cannot recommend The Diamond Bride.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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