by Susan Kay Law, historical (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81907-4
I love a grouchy teddy bear who gives his woman flowers - without any prompting from her part and completely impulsive on his. Marry Me, the second book in Susan Kay Law's Marrying Miss Bright series (this book follows The Bad Man's Bride - no, I'm not making the title up!) is a pretty unspectacular read when it comes to originality, but it has the right... what's the word? "Soul"? "Heart"?
Whatever it is, it's an ability to make me smile. The heroine Emily Bright starts off a rather naive bulb, but she matures and learns that by the later stages of this story, she is actually more than a match for the Macho Marlboro Man that is Jake Sullivan. In fact, she pretty much becomes Jake's mother as well as lover, and I find that kinda cute. On his part, Jake's a rather adorable balance of grouchiness and tenderness. Oh he's hurt, but he's such a cute teddy bear, awww.
I miss my grouchy rottweiler.
It is 1899 and Emily is on her way to visit her sister Anthea (heroine of The Bad Man's Bride) when she receives a flyer promoting the free-for-all grab for former Indian reservation lands. Faster than you can say "Told ya she should've watched before she flushed!" she's off. She almost fainted when she realizes what she has gotten into: she has to stay on her land and toil and groan and work it every day for five years before she can rightfully claim the land as hers. It is a far cry from the rustic country holiday patch she imagined she will be getting.
No matter. The sympathetic land agent gives her a nice piece of land, complete with a rather run-down but livable house. Emily decides to sleep off her blues. To her horror, the brute Jake storms into the house in the middle of the night claiming that the house - and the land - is his. Get out, get out!
It's all a bureaucracy error, of course - isn't it always - but these two will soon find themselves stuck together. It all started when Jake, despite his best intentions, leaves flowers for Emily in a scene that makes me go "Awwww!" like a member of the audience in the taping of a Full House episode. When Kate, Emily's sister comes visiting, they have to play husband and wife too to placate Kate. Things get even better.
Emily's motivations are dingbatty, but the author does pull it off convincingly. Emily is young, and she wants to break free from her suffocating sisters to discover her own inner self. Or something we always tell ourselves when we were young to justify our rebelling against our parents/guardians to have plenty of hot and wild sex with bad boys. (I wish I did, really. Sigh.) And she does learn - that's a very big plus in my book - and she learns and adapts with gusto. She may be naive, but she's got got heart and brains, bless her, that Emily Bright.
And Jake may sing that old "I'm guilt ridden over my woman" blues, but he's so cute. Grouchy but tender, surly but never cruel, he is like an adorable butt-ugly bulldog. It helps too that Emily never lets him sing that pity party blues for too long. When she tells him straight in the face that it is she who will make the decision as to who is worthy of her love, I want to stand up and cheer.
So yeah, this is no original story. But it's so heartwarming and the two lovebirds just make me melt inside and smile as if it's always summer or something, I can't dislike it. Marry Me is such sweet, romantic confectionary that I wish it lasted a little bit longer than it did.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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