The Best Man

Brides of Prairie Gold

Promise of Jenny Jones

Silver Lining

A Stranger's Wife

I Do, I Do, I Do
by Maggie Osborne
(Ivy, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-449-00517-8
Juliette March is a small town spinster living in Linda Vista, California, when she makes a decision that alters her life dramatically. A wealthy heiress, she has spent her entire adult life listening to her aunt’s warnings about fortune hunters only interested in wooing her for her sizeable bank account. However, when she meets dashing Frenchman Jean Jacques Villette, she stops listening to her aunt and promptly marries the man. When Jean Jacques leaves, with some of her money, and doesn’t return, she decides to go out and find him.

Instead, she finds Clara Klaus, a no nonsense innkeeper who just sold her inn in Oregon to find Jean Jacques for herself. She too was wooed and wed to the man, and when she meets Juliette she’s hopping mad. Clara has given the man a fortune in cash, and sold her only means to support herself! Even though the two women despise each other, they agree to pool their resources and continue the hunt.

Following his trail to Seattle, the two instead come across a third wife, Zoe Wilder. Zoe is a coal miner’s daughter who has been trying desperately to escape her humble upbringing. Jean Jacques easily dazzled her with his fancy ways, and when he left, he also took a chunk of Zoe’s savings.

Zoe’s so angry that all she wants to do is to find the lying, cheating skunk and put a bullet through his black heart. Clara just wants her money back, while the sheltered Juliette sort of just twists in the breeze. Jean Jacques’ trail leads straight to the Alaska Yukon, where he’s joined the surging gold rush. So the three women pack their bags, set sail, and soon find themselves each falling in love with men they meet in the frozen wilderness. But how can they possible give into these new feelings when they may or may not actually be married? And how can they possibly tell anyone they were all silly enough to marry the same con man?

My immediate fear before sinking my teeth into this remarkable story was that Osborne may be spreading herself thin. How can she possibly give equal time to develop 6 main characters and 3 different romances? Well I’m here to say that she tackles the job and pulls it off with flying colors. Osborne has crafted three dramatically different heroines, providing each of them with winning voices, and given them all romantic heroes that are the perfect foil.

What I loved was the fact that Juliette, Clara and Zoe start off hating each other. They are all jealous of one another, questioning what Jean Jacques could possibly see in the “other two.” However, over the course of the novel, the reader begins to see the subtle changes that they all go through. It’s as if the “other two” are holding up mirrors and they are actually seeing themselves for the very first time.

I Do, I Do, I Do is also a highly amusing and entertaining read. I found myself chuckling often at all three of the heroines’ antics. While I found that Clara provided much of the comic relief, Zoe and Juliette both have some shining moments that had me stifling laughter when I was reading in public places. The clincher is a love scene towards the end the story that I seriously doubt I will forget any time soon.

With all the attention on the romantic relationship, female friendship is a theme that is rarely explored in the romance genre. Osborne’s exploration of how three totally different women, who initially hate each other, can become friends that respect one another is ultimately what sealed this book in keeper status for me. The humor, romantic heroes, and the romances were all a thick layer of frosting on the cake.

--Wendy Crutcher

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