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Shotgun Wedding    by Maggie Osborne order for
Shotgun Wedding
by Maggie Osborne
Order:  USA  Can
Ivy, 2003 (2003)
*   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Annie Malloy considers herself a 'New Modern Woman'. Along with her small circle of friends, she has vowed to live her life in a different, independent way. Her first step in embracing a new lifestyle leads to an illicit affair with confessed outlaw Bodie Miller. Before long their frequent assignations lead to pregnancy. When Annie informs Bodie of her 'delicate condition' and sets further conditions about how he must live his life if he intends to marry her, Bodie replies that he has no intention of changing his outlaw ways or marrying her. Realizing that it won't take long before her pregnancy is visible to everyone in town, Annie doesn't feel much like a new modern women and even contemplates suicide.

Jesse Harden has loved Annie from afar ever since taking over as sheriff. Despite her refusals, he persists in courting her. When he discovers her pregnancy, he offers marriage, hoping that Annie might come to return his feelings over time. He also hopes that she will one day tell him the truth about the baby's father. Annie's relief and growing fondness for her kind, honorable husband quickly turns to worry when Bodie returns, vowing to kill Jesse for taking Annie and his baby from him. Afraid that revealing Bodie's intentions will cause a showdown, Annie keeps her secrets. But, as she begins to fall in love with her husband, she realizes that these secrets could well get Jesse killed.

It's a well-written, historically authentic and interesting romance, but I found the characterizations off-putting and forced, particularly the initial situation between Annie and Bodie Miller. Their affair and Annie's subsequent pregnancy seem nothing more than a tool to launch the story and then give the independent-minded Annie a valid reason to accept Jesse's courtship. Bodie's actions too, seemed foolish. Why would he hang around town stirring up suspicion about himself? The romance might have been more satisfying if Bodie had simply left town early on and the author had concentrated instead on working through the difficulties of Annie and Jesse's marriage of convenience.

The author's past stories have been creative and entertaining. Unfortunately, Shotgun Wedding shows only a glimmer of Maggie Osborne's creative spark.

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