Dedicated to Deirdre
By Anne Marie Winston
(Silh. Desire #1197, $3.75, R) ISBN 0-373-76197-X
Dedicated to Deirdre is book two of the "Butler County Brides" trilogy about three friends. The first book, The Baby Consultant, was released in January. The third, The Bride Means Business, will be a March release. The characters from the first story, along with the leading character in book three, have supporting roles in this one.

Deirdre Patten, having freed herself from an abusive marriage, has taken her two young sons and moved from Baltimore to a peaceful farm in Butler County where she runs a business from her home. While in the grocery store, she bumps into Ronan Sullivan, who is in the area to look for housing. As it happens, Deirdre has an apartment to rent above her stable information cheerfully shared by her son.

Ronan is interested in renting the apartment. Deirdre is reluctant. Not only is she man-shy as a result of her abusive marriage, but Ronan is an acquaintance of her ex-husband's, and was witness to an embarrassing incident that Deirdre would prefer to forget. She needs the additional income, though, and agrees to show him the apartment.

Ronan, seeking the solitude and security of the country, decides the apartment will be ideal for his purposes and moves in. He quickly settles in to rural living, and begins to make friends with the two boys and the family dog. He is also quite attracted to Deirdre, and she to him. They act upon this attraction, and begin a relationship.

I had several concerns with this book. My biggest complaint was that the book was too predictable. There were certain elements of the story that I could guess the outcome from the moment they were introduced. The plot also relied heavily on ye olde Big Misunderstanding theme. The characters took turns feeling aggrieved over something the other said, or neglected to say.

And while the passion between these two was steamy and intense, I questioned the timing. I had a hard time believing that a woman as emotionally scarred and man-shy would react this quickly, or this intensely toward a man she hardly knows.

Finally, a situation arises toward the end of the book which had me raising an eyebrow at its resolution. I dunno... it just seemed a bit 'over the top' and unnecessary. However, this is book two of a three book series. Perhaps that particular incident is needed to further the story line in book three; though I am not sure how or why this would be the case.

The book was well written, but I can't say it really 'called to me.' In ice cream terms, this one was vanilla, when I had my mouth fixed for a fudge sundae.

--Diane Grayson

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