"Fortunes of Texas"

Lone Star Wedding
by Sandra Steffen
(Silhouette, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-65038-8
OK, I was wrong. In my last “Fortunes of Texas” review I wondered out loud if there were something missing in this series, something that prevented these stories from sustaining the interest that the first “Fortune” books generated. Lone Star Wedding, the current entry, proves me wrong. Sandra Steffen manages to move the overall story line along very nicely while offering a very enjoyable romance. So it can work.

This badly titled book with its deceptive cover (the hero and heroine do not get married yet; there is no wedding) has as its heroine Hannah Cassidy, the daughter of Lily Cassidy. To clarify things for the uninitiated, Lily is the woman who is going to marry family patriarch, Ryan Fortune, once his nasty wife Sophia agrees to a divorce. The hero is Ryan’s divorce lawyer, Parker Malone.

Divorce lawyers are probably not good candidates for matrimony and Parker is worse than most. His parents’ marriage ended in a bitter break-up; his own marriage had a most unhappy ending. He does not believe in happily ever after and has the statistics to back up his position. Then he meets Hannah.

After a less than auspicious first meeting, Hannah and Parker meet again at a Fortune family gathering. Hannah is very attracted to the handsome lawyer and Parker is likewise smitten. But their philosophies of life and love are diametrically opposed. Hannah believes firmly in marriage and family and she is loathe to become involved with a man who does not.

But Parker is persistent, almost unwillingly so. He can’t get Hannah out of his mind. Her kindness, good humor, and optimism add something that has been missing to his life. And, wonder of wonders, they become friends. Yet when their relationship becomes something more, there are inevitable problems. Can Parker admit that he loves Hannah?

Obviously, this is a tried and true romance plot. However, Steffen deals with it nicely and certainly Parker has more reasons than many heroes to be leery of marriage. What Steffen does particularly well is to describe the development of their relationship. Parker may have started out hot for Hannah’s body, but by the time they come together, he realizes how much more there is to this woman.

In addition to Parker’s and Hannah’s love story, Steffen includes a secondary romance between Parker’s father -- also a high-powered lawyer -- and Hannah’s friend Adrienne, a most unconventional ex-beauty queen. Also, the plot concerning the kidnapping of Baby Bryan moves a bit more onto the center stage, since we who have been following the story know that it is Hannah’s sister Maria who has the missing child. Finally, the developments with nasty Sophia and her henchman, Clint Lockhart, take a most surprising turn.

All in all, Lone Star Wedding reawakened my interest in the ongoing soap opera of the Fortunes of Texas. Steffen’s success in forwarding the storyline while providing a most enjoyable romance is to be commended. Obviously, she is a most talented author.

--Jean Mason

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