Strategically Wed by Pamela Dalton

strategically wedTitle: Strategically Wed

Author: Pamela Dalton

Mills & Boon imprint: My copy is Romantic Suspense, but the only cover I could find online was Silhouette Intimate Moments

Year of publication: 2002

The heroine: Detective Maggie Bennington

The hero: Detective Griff Murdock

The blurb: A fake marriage between Maggie Bennington and Detective Griff Murdock to catch the thieves who were robbing wedding parties didn’t quite go as planned.

The weeks of forced seclusion, trying to figure out who wanted them dead, did nothing to alleviate the growing sexual tension between them. They found the vows to love, honour and cherish easy to obey – in bed!

Standalone or series: Standalone.

The review: I find it curious that in the blurb, it’s only mentioned that Griff is a detective, not Maggie as well. Griff and Maggie have a long history; Maggie’s late father, BJ, was Griff’s partner. Maggie has long resented Griff, because she felt starved of her father’s affection at Griff’s expense. Griff, in turn, was betrayed by his wife, who was cheating on him, and when she died in a car accident he discovered she was pregnant… but he’s not sure if he was the father. Griff has abandonment issues, because his mother dumped his as a child and he grew up in the foster system, and he resents Maggie because she left the force three years previously and her father was never the same.

Maggie is lured back to help with a case – thieves are raiding churches while wedding ceremonies are happening and stealing from the wedding party. In order to catch them, Griff and Maggie pose as newlyweds. Because they don’t know how the victims are being selected, they go through the motions of a real wedding – not even those they work with know the engagement is fake. At the ceremony, they bust the thieves, and as Griff and Maggie are leaving the church, shots ring out. Griff is rushed to hospital, and Maggie is persuaded by her godfather/father’s best friend/fellow cop Wylie to sign the marriage certificate and make the marriage legal, since they don’t know who shot at them and which one of them was the target.

Griff survives the surgery and they agree to annul the marriage when the shooter is caught. However, to continue on with the cover, they retreat to Wylie’s cabin, ostensibly to have their honeymoon, but in reality to keep them safe while Griff recovers.

Most of the book takes place at the cabin, and to be honest, it dragged a bit. They’re both attracted to each other sexually, but keep making excuses as to why they can’t have sex. They try to convince each other that the marriage being real would be a bad idea, but I never really got why. Yes, they have history, but they were obviously a good match and using her father as an excuse wore thin.

They had sex twice at the cabin, and there’s a scene where Maggie realises she wants to be pregnant with Griff’s baby, and has a thought about how the first time they had sex, she was safe because of the time of the month. Do women really still believe that you can’t fall pregnant at certain times in your cycle? Surely not. I think this line shows the book’s age. Overall, I enjoyed it, and I’m glad they stopped using excuses as to why they couldn’t be together and made the marriage real. And yes, they had a baby 🙂

I love the cover. Not sure if you can tell, but Maggie’s hair is extremely red – love it!

Engaging Sam by Ingrid Weaver

engaging samTitle: Engaging Sam

Author: Ingrid Weaver

Mills & Boon imprint: Silhouette Intimate Moments/Passionate Protectors

Year of publication: 1999

The heroine: Caterer Audra McPherson

The hero: Undercover cop Sam Tucker

The blurb: Audra McPherson didn’t recognize the man who burst into her bedroom. She’s never seen her reclusive neighbour so close, or so naked! Sexy Sam Tucker was hardly the quiet businessman she’d imagined…

Probably because he was actually an undercover cop who needed her to pose as his fiancĂ©e. But did Sam have to make their “engagement” so realistic with his passionate kisses?

Standalone or series: Part of the Men in Blue series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: My copy of this book is listed as part of the Passionate Protectors series, and I struggled to finish it. Not because it wasn’t good – it was – but because the print was so freaking tiny that it gave me a headache, even with my glasses on.

Audra McPherson has sworn off marriage. She was going to marry her childhood sweetheart when she was younger, but then he was paralysed in an accident. He told her to leave him but she refused, moving in to look after him until he died two years later. They’d both made the decision to wait until they were married before having sex, so when the book starts Audra, who hasn’t really dated anyone since her fiancĂ© died, is still a virgin. She leads a spinster life; she loves to knit, read and cook. All that’s missing are the cats.

When her neighbour of a few months climbs into her bedroom window one night completely naked, Audra is thrust into a world she’d only ever read about. Sam Tucker is reluctant to drag his attractive neighbour into his undercover operation, but when he finds out that her family catering business, for whom she works, has landed a lucrative job catering the wedding of the daughter of a suspected money launderer that Sam and his team are trying to bring down, he manages to persuade her to help. Audra tells Sam that her father and oldest brother will only hire family on jobs, so Sam talks Audra into posing as his fiancĂ©e so he can work at the wedding and gather the information needed to bring the bad guy down by telling her he’ll make sure she gets the fifty thousand dollar reward for catching this guy. Audra dreams of opening her own restaurant and the reward money will make that happen.

Audra’s large and overprotective family accept Sam for the most part, delighted she’s found love again after spending so many years alone. Audra’s mother also caught Sam leaving Audra’s apartment the night he busted in, so she has no trouble believing the relationship is real. The more time they spend together, the more they have trouble keeping their feelings fake. Sam thinks he’s better off alone, having come from a troubled childhood, and Audra is reluctant to open her heart again after losing her ex. But when Sam refuses to budge from her side as her bodyguard after she agrees to testify against the bad guy when she sees him murder an associate at the wedding (and promptly gets shot herself in the crossfire), Audra comes to realise that she really does love Sam. After watching Audra in hospital and defending her to her family, Sam realises he feels the same and wants to make their engagement real.

I really enjoyed this book and I loved both Sam and Audra. It stands the test of time; there’s nothing in it that reminds you it’s almost twenty years old. Worth a read 🙂