Romance Book Reviews

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Texas Rich by Fern Michaels

Ballantine, August, 2001
Hardcover, 529 pages
ISBN: 0345449592
Subgenre: Contemporary
Ordering information:

Texas Rich
by Fern Michaels Ballantine is reissuing in a special hardcover the bestselling Texas series, which begins with Texas Rich, and is followed by Texas Fury, Texas Heat, and Texas Sunrise. The Texas series is a sprawling saga which tells the story of the fabulously wealthy Coleman family: their loves, losses, triumphs and betrayals are portrayed from the 1940s to present day. The story opens in Philadelphia during World War II. Young and beautiful, Billie Ames meets a handsome navy pilot, Moss Coleman, who is stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. After a whirlwind courtship, and a little help from Billie's scheming mother, Billie and Moss are married and have moved to Sunbridge, the 250,000 acre Texas ranch owned by the wealthy Coleman family. Billie must face an incredibly manipulative father-in-law who has inexplicably teamed up with her own mother (who always wanted to be rich and hated their lives of genteel poverty in Philadelphia) and the fact that Moss may not be the man that she thought she married. As the years go by and the family expands, Billie remains the strong center of a family dynasty which is marked by passion, betrayal, joy and heartbreak that all the money in the world cannot assuage.

The Texas saga showcases Fern Michaels' considerable talents as a storyteller. The opening scenes with Billie as a young girl in World War II are absolutely wonderful; Michaels perfectly evokes the mood and tone of the era. As the years go by, the attitudes and mores of the times are clearly reflected in the actions and outlook of each successive generation of children. Billie Ames is a fascinating character, who is quite naïve when she marries, but grows into a complex, strong woman who must hold an entire family together in the face of great triumphs and tragedies. This is an absorbing and very entertaining book, and fans are sure to delight in this new edition.

An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

Avon, July, 2001
Paperback, 384 pages
ISBN: 0380815583
Subgenre: Historical
Ordering information:

An Offer From a Gentleman
by Julia Quinn Although it is never openly spoken of, Sophie Becket is the the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Penwood. In his will, the Earl specified that his second wife would receive a large sum of money if she would allow Sophie to live with her after his death. Sophie's stepmother, the dowager countess, despises Sophie and relegates her to the servants' quarters. Sophie's two stepsisters also treat her horribly. The night of the Bridgerton masquerade ball, the servants of the house help transform Sophie into a perfectly turned-out beauty so that she can go to the ball. At the ball, Sophie meets the handsome and charming Benedict Bridgerton, and the two are smitten. But Sophie must rush home to don her servant's garb, and when her stepmother finds out she went to the ball, she is thrown out on the street. Benedict searches for the beautiful mystery woman he fell for at the ball, but to no avail. Several years pass, and the two meet again when Benedict saves Sophie from the unwanted attentions of a drunk nobleman. Benedict finds Sophie a place as a maid in his mother's London home. But Benedict doesn't recognize Sophie as his missing mystery woman from the night of the ball, although he does find her attractive. But he certainly can't marry a servant girl, now can he?

Julia Quinn has taken the Cinderella story, given it a Regency era background and added a few of her own special twists to create a delightful tale. Sophie has kept her identity as the illegitimate daughter of an earl a dark secret, and so a marriage seems impossible given the class difference. But with a little help from a real fairy godmother -- Benedict's mother -- true love actually has a chance. Julia Quinn has a light touch with witty repartee, yet there is real heart which underlies the humor in this passionate and endearing story.

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