cover image The Hellion Bride

The Hellion Bride

Catherine Coulter. Jove Books, $7.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-515-10974-0

The second part of Coulter's (The Sherbrooke Bride ) bride trilogy follows Ryder Sherbrooke to Jamaica, where Theo Burgess, an islander, is making a devious grab for the Sherbrooke plantation. As part of his scheme, Theo bullies his niece, Sophie Stanton-Greville, into playing the tart to soften up Ryder. Ryder begins to piece together their plan just about the time Sophie (who is sick of her uncle's beatings and his threats against her younger brother, Jeremy) holds a gun to Theo. When the scoundrel turns up dead, local authorities are ready to lock up the young woman. Ryder rescues Sophie by marrying her and then by shipping her and Jeremy back to his family in England. Why he does this is something of a mystery--he had earlier decided that marriage was ``a truly appalling thought.'' Ryder's thoughts go beyond ambivalence to inconsistency, as though Coulter hasn't fully worked out what's going on in her hero's mind. This is unfortunate, since Ryder is the central focus of the book. Sophie too is not portrayed well by Coulter: she is two-dimensional. Because Ryder is depicted as adoring children and determined to get the girl, he, and his story, will probably find favor with Coulter's fans nonetheless. (Nov.)