Convincing Jamey

Father to Be

First Kiss

The Horseman's Bride

Knight Errant

Murphy's Law

Older, Wiser...Pregnant

Passion

Rogue's Reform

Season for Miracles

The Sheriff's Surrender

Some Enchanted Season

Suspicion

The Taming of Reid Donovan

 
Getting Lucky by Marilyn Pappano
(Bantam, $6.50, PG) ISBN 0-553-58232-1
***
Marilyn Pappano is one of a handful of authors who are on my auto-buy list. In fact, I had already purchased and read Getting Lucky before it was ever assigned to me for review.

This latest installment in the Bethlehem series is not my personal favorite (that would have to be Some Enchanted Season), but the author once again challenges the reader with a character that, at first glance, appears to be less than admirable.

When Ben Foster rumbles into the sleepy town of Bethlehem in his classic GTO, he appears to most to be merely a drifter looking for some work as a handyman before hitting the road once again. But Ben has an ulterior motive. Heís traveled to Bethlehem to get his first glimpse of his twelve-year-old daughter, Alanna.

For those of you who have been following the Bethlehem series, Alanna Dalton was first introduced in the book Season For Miracles, when she and her brother and sister find sanctuary in the idyllic town with their aunt Emilie. In that book we learned much about the childrenís mother, Berry. Now we are introduced to one of the childrenís fathers and itís not necessarily a heartwarming experience.

Ben was nineteen and quite a hell-raiser when his girlfriend Berry told him she was pregnant. Benís response was "so long" and he never looked back. But the recent death of his grandmother, who had always regretted never meeting her great-granddaughter, seems to be the catalyst for Ben to find focus in his life.

While deciding whether he should disrupt his daughterís life with his unexpected appearance, he finds work in town renovating the home of wealthy business executive Lynda Barone.

Lynda is known by the folks of Bethlehem as the "Ice Maiden". Sheís aware of the nickname but seems helpless to do anything to change that perception. Sheís comfortable dealing with men in the business world, but unable to relate to a man on a more personal level. Sheís the personification of workaholic, spending up to sixteen hours per day at the firm, so unable to relax that she doesnít even own any casual clothes.

When these two polar opposites come together one would expect fireworks, but their relationship is remarkably passionless. Lyndaís inherent caution seems to set the tone for their romantic relationship and things meander slowly along until Benís secret is unexpectedly exposed.

I thought Iíd have much greater trouble relating to Ben, a man who admits to abandoning his daughter and girlfriend when they needed him most. But the author does her usual superb job of creating a sympathetic character where it doesnít appear that one exists. Ben makes no excuses for his behavior and itís evident heís learned from the mistakes of his past. I had greater difficulty relating to the unemotional Lynda.

While Getting Lucky is part of a series, itís definitely a stand-alone read. Characters from the previous books are deftly woven into this story so that readers familiar with the earlier books can visit old friends without confusing new readers. I wish more series books were as skillfully integrated.

While Ben and Lynda eventually find their own happy ending, things are not as tidily resolved with Ben and Alanna, setting up the next book in the series called Heaven on Earth. This is a book I eagerly await since it features characters introduced here: Lyndaís pistol of a girlfriend, private detective Melina Dimitris and her one night stand, mysterious Bethlehem builder, Sebastian Knight. This pairing seems to have all the fire that Getting Lucky lacks.

--Karen Lynch


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