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Marriage by Design    by Lynn Michaels order for
Marriage by Design
by Lynn Michaels
Order:  USA  Can
Ivy, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Talented designer Mia Savard has had it with men. After being dumped by Terrence the Cad, she wants nothing more to do with romance. Unfortunately, designing wedding dresses for a living isn't conducive to not thinking about relationships. Not seeing any alternative, she storms into her father's office and tells him in no uncertain terms that if she doesn't get transferred to the Trousseau line, she'll quit. Lucien Savard, head of Savard Creations, is less than sympathetic. As Mia begins to make good on her threat, disaster strikes.

In an impromptu company-wide meeting, Lucien announces that Mia's most spectacular custom design for the upcoming nuptials of the governor's daughter has been stolen. Worse yet, Savard Creations' biggest rival, Heavenly Bridals, is claiming the design as its own and has taken out a full-page ad in the latest edition of Today's Bride magazine. Lucien wastes no time hiring a private investigator to find out who leaked the design. Much to Mia's chagrin, Joe Kerr turns out to be absolutely irresistible, a fact that threatens her resolve to keep all men at arm's length. But Joe has a job to do, and everyone's a suspect ... even Mia.

Judging by the frothy pink cover showing a giant bridal dress and a smiling young woman, I expected Marriage by Design to be a simple romantic comedy. While outrageously funny in parts, there is nothing simple about this captivating story. From the first page, when we're introduced to both Mia and her father, Lucien, it's immediately clear that this book contains that certain blend of genuine humor and in-depth characterization missing from so many romantic comedies. But what other books lack, Marriage by Design makes up for in spades.

The characters are very well-developed. Each member of the Savard family is revealed through candid actions and dialogue that rings true. The relationship between Mia, her parents and siblings will remind readers of their own families. Mia herself is exceptional, a perfect blend of her father's quick temper and her mother's calm manner. When she meets Joe, sparks fly, and for good reason. He's as genuinely likeable as every other character, and becomes even more attractive when his past is fully revealed.

For a unique blend of romance, suspense and laugh-out-loud humor, look no further than Marriage by Design.

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