Annie's Hero

The Baddest Bride in Texas

The Baddest Virgin in Texas

Born in Twilight

Brides of the Night

Eternity

Forever Enchanted

Fairytale

The Husband She Couldn't Remember

Infinity

 
Million Dollar Marriage
by Maggie Shayne
(Silhouette, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-65030-2
****
Your official Fortune’s Children reviewer here to report on the new incarnation of these tales of love and marriage amongst the obscenely wealthy. While I have yet to figure out what connection, if any, the Texas Fortunes have to the Minnesota Fortunes, I can assure all my fellow addicts that the new series is off to a rip-roaring start.

Clearly, the continuing thread in the books is going to center on the kidnapping of infant Bryan Fortune at his own christening party. What evil person could have committed such a dastardly deed, demanding $50 million for the return of the baby?

Two of the guests at the christening party are Holden Fortune, the CEO of the family’s business and Lucinda Bridgewater, the mother’s obstetrician. The two have a history, although only one of them really remembers exactly what that history is.

Holden and Lucinda were high school classmates. Holden was the wild rich boy; Lucinda was the studious bookworm who admired the dashing apprentice playboy from afar. Then, one evening fate brought them together. Holden ended up with a hangover and no memory of what happened. Lucinda ended up with an ectopic pregnancy.

Sixteen years later, they run into each other at the party which takes such a tragic turn. Holden has a problem. His father has died and stipulated in his will that Holden must marry a respectable woman if he wishes to receive his very considerable inheritance. Holden hasn’t been near a respectable woman in, well, sixteen years. Convinced that he resembles his tomcatting father in character as much as he does in appearance, he has steered clear of nice women.

Lucinda also has a problem. Her biological clock is ticking and she desperately wants a child. But her one remaining ovary has atypical cells. If she doesn’t get pregnant soon, it will be too late.

Their chance meeting at the party leads Holden to suggest a bargain. He needs a respectable wife; she wants $1 million to open a clinic for poor women. They’ll have a marriage in name only and she’ll get the money. Of course, Lucinda has other ideas about what kind of marriage they will have. And there is that attraction that each felt for the other during high school.

Thus, Shayne has given us a modern marriage of convenience story with a twist.

As you might expect, this launch book in the series also introduces us to a number of other characters who will clearly figure prominently in subsequent installments. We meet Holden’s uncle who has rediscovered a lost love but who is still married to a real b**ch. We meet Holden’s mother and brother and sister and cousins, who will all have their own stories. And there are enough secrets in the Texas Fortune family to keep the stories coming.

But, of course, The Million Dollar Marriage must be judged on its own merits as a romance. As such, it does quite nicely. Holden is trapped by his belief that he is like his father and has to learn that he is worthy of a good woman’s love. Lucinda has to see the real Holden and understand her own feelings towards him. All in all, Shayne does a fine job of creating characters we care about and showing us how their relationship can overcome some very real barriers.

I must admit to an abiding curiosity about how these series are done. I know that the editors create a “book” and the authors are assigned the characters and stories they are to write. I always wonder just how much latitude the authors have to develop their own plots and characters.

The fact is that Maggie Shayne is a talented author and tells a good tale. So whether or not you are a Fortune junky, you should enjoy this story of two people who take sixteen years to discover that they are right for each other. See you next month for the next Fortune installment.

--Jean Mason


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