by Susan Mallery

May 2006
ISBN: 07434-9957-3
Reviewer Graphic Button Pocket Books
Mass Market Paperback

Lieutenant Commander Joe Larson has just become a certified baby-sitter. Sure, his charge is the daughter of the president of the United States, Darcy Jensen, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a baby-sitter. A wrong move on the part of Joe’s Navy SEAL team has led to his new position, and though he’s unhappy about it, he knows there’s nothing he can do. When he finds out where Darcy’s hideout is, he’s ready to blow a gasket. The Marcelli winery is his family’s pride and joy. Too bad Joe can’t claim to be equally enamored with it. In fact, he’s not enamored with the Marcelli clan period. Unfortunately, a job’s a job.

After a botched kidnapping attempt, Darcy Jensen is scared. Though she’s not keen on the idea of being forced into hiding, she’s taking it in stride because frankly, the thought of her kidnappers still keeps her awake at night. Joe Larson seems capable enough at keeping her safe, and she can’t fault the scenery. The Marcelli winery is beautiful, a spacious and relaxing safe house. However, it’s Joe who really captures Darcy’s attention. His stiff demeanor around the Marcellis, his family, confuses her. Darcy would give anything for a family like that and yet Joe seems to be throwing it all away. As their confinement together continues, Darcy yearns to unearth Joe’s secrets. He’s an enigma she can’t resist, and it seems like he feels the same way. The attraction between them is palpable, but both know any future together is an impossibility…right?

The Marcelli Bride is the latest edition to Susan Mallery’s impressive and delightful Marcelli series. Finally readers find out all about Joe, and what a tale it is! Both Darcy and Joe are fleshed out and detailed characters. They clash, they battle, and they fall in love amongst the compelling drama that is taking place both within the Marcelli household and in the outside world as the search for Darcy’s kidnappers continues. Joe and Darcy have an equal amount of emotional baggage but instead of dragging the plot, Ms. Mallery is adapt at turning those emotions into engrossing conversations that actually further the plot.

The Marcelli family adds their own charm to the story and readers will look forward to catching up with Katie, Francesca and Brenna. However, it is the plot that is playing out between Joe and Darcy that centers this story and keeps the reader’s attention. The Marcelli Bride, an affecting and solid story, will surely make Susan Mallery’s name synonymous with heartfelt contemporary romances. If you haven’t had a chance to read her books yet, you won’t go wrong spending your hard-earned money on The Marcelli Bride.

Reviewed in April 2006 by Sarah.

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