Annie's Hero

The Baddest Virgin in Texas

Born in Twilight

Brides of the Night

Forever Enchanted


The Husband She Couldn't Remember

The Baddest Bride in Texas
by Maggie Shayne
(Silh. Int. Mom #907, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07907-9
"The Texas Brand" miniseries
The Baddest Bride in Texas is an easy read with an interesting storyline that nevertheless elicited only a so-so reaction from me.

Two years ago, Kirsten Cowan jilted her true love, Adam Brand, without a word of explanation. To make matters worse, she speedily wound up at the altar with another man, a man old enough to be her father and mean enough to be the devil himself. Her new husband, Joseph Cowan, is also as rich as a king, so everyone in Kirsten's small town, including the large Brand family, assumes they understand her motives in ditching Adam.

Adam himself was crushed by Kirsten's betrayal almost as crushed as he was when, at the age of fifteen, he learned of the death of his parents in a terrible car accident. He's been abandoned twice in his life now by those he loves, and he's not in a very forgiving mood. But all his hatred for Kirsten seems to disappear when he learns she's in trouble.

And she is in trouble the big kind. It seems her husband has been murdered. For Kirsten, this is more a relief than anything her marriage to the vicious old man had been like a prison sentence. The only problem with Kirsten's "parole" is that more and more evidence is pointing to her as the murderer.

Even while he's doing his best to convince himself and everyone else that he is completely over Kirsten, Adam finds himself unable to stay away from her. The need to help her and protect her overwhelms his sense of self-preservation, particularly as he begins to get clues that Kirsten may have been blackmailed into leaving him and marrying Cowan.

This book is full of secrets, and although I figured out most of them before the author actually revealed them, I still found the plot to be engaging. What was less engaging, unfortunately, was the romance between Kirsten and Adam. With all the murder and mystery going on, there really isn't a lot of page-space left to develop their relationship.

The main conflict between them involves Kirsten's biggest secret, the one that more or less forced her to leave Adam at the altar. It's easy to see why she would fear telling him it's a pretty bad secret but by the time she finally bites the bullet, there's not a lot of time left for Adam to react. He has to come to terms with a major shock in a matter of hours and a very few pages. It was rather disconcerting to finally come to this big event I'd been waiting for all along, and then have it pass by with such speed.

But there just isn't time to devote to Adam's anguish, because he's got to get over it and get on with the big splashy ending where all truths are laid bare and the book winds up. I understand the length requirements of the various category lines, so I can't really fault the author. I just think this may have been an overly ambitious storyline for such a short book.

So in the end, my indifferent reaction to the romance part of the book, along with my relative enjoyment of the rest of it, combine to make about a three-heart rating. I'll give it a shrug and a "hey, you could do worse."

-- Ellen Hestand

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