Cinderella's Big Sky Groom

Dr. Devastating

A Hero for Sophie Jones

Married by Accident

Marriage by Necessity

The M. D. She Had
to Marry

The Millionaire She Married

The Tycoon's Instant Daughter
by Christine Rimmer
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1369, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-24369-3
The Tycoon's Instant Daughter is the first of five books, all by different authors, about the Stockwells of Texas, a wealthy, influential family with "secrets, scandalous pasts and unexpected love…." Book one lays the foundation and whets our interest in all of these family secrets, and as befitting a Texas dynasty, there are plenty, pardner.

Social Worker Hannah Miller doesn't want to leave three-month-old Becky with Cord Stockwell, even if she is 99% sure that this Texas tycoon is the baby's father. When she finds out that the nanny that Cord had hired for Becky didn't show up, Hannah is ready to take Becky home with her rather than leave the baby in this playboy's care.

Cord Stockwell has different ideas. After all, he didn't get to be where he is by being a Milquetoast. He knows that Becky is his daughter, but he also knows that he's got to convince this "Okie social worker with a Yankee attitude" to let Becky stay until the result of the paternity test is in. He proposes that Hannah become Becky's nanny. Their battle is whether Hannah's stay in the Stockwell mansion will be temporary . . . or permanent.

Christine Rimmer is an author whose stories are hit or miss for me. I give The Tycoon's Instant Daughter mixed reviews. Part of the problem is that Cord and Hannah are not fully fleshed out. Motivations, reasons for their behavior, are not given to us in enough detail. Without some framework for reference, it's hard to know what's behind their actions and reactions. Ambiguity is not a good thing in dealing with lead characters in a romance novel.

Something that grated on me is the way these two address each other with stilted reserve, using surnames for a large part of the story. It becomes tedious with untold references to Ms. Miller and Mr. Stockwell. This formality becomes too exaggerated, with a starched, priggish feeling.

And what's with this recent outbreak of situational titles, ones that are lackluster, colorless and unimaginative? What's really interesting about the title of this book? Picture Gone With the Wind being accorded this same provincialism. Would Scarlett, The Misunderstood Vixen really evoke the same magic? The Powers Who Bestow Titles seem to be taking the easy way out lately. Yes, I think a title with a certain mystique adds to a story. Here the mystique is noticeably absent. It's as though we just need to add water and Presto, there's a baby.

In spite of my grousing, there's also a lot to like about The Tycoon's Instant Daughter. While the story does start out slow, with some predictability, there is noticeable growth in the relationship. As their awareness grows, so does their concern that the affection may not be returned with the same depth. This concern rings true. Also, the ending segues nicely into the second book,Seven Months and Counting, (SSE 1375) by Myrna Temte, a story about Cord's twin brother Rafe.

Another thing that Christine Rimmer does really well in this story is build up the sexual anticipation. She gives us an underlying, gentle sensuality, a constant sexual awareness. It's this constant awareness that never lets me forget that I'm reading, first and foremost, a romance.

If continuing stories appeal to you, then the Stockwells of Texas will hold some appeal. There's enough mystery that's revealed in book one, a mystery interesting enough, to keep readers coming back to find out what deep, dark secrets this family has. Also, there's definitely enough lead-in information about twin brother Rafe to make the second book one worth checking out.

--Linda Mowery

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