Cassidy’s Courtship is Sharon Mignerey’s first book for Silhouette. I’ll go on record as saying it is one of the best category novels I have read this year, and one of the best novels I have read this year, period.
Brenna James is being sued for writing a bad check. The attorney for her opponent is Cole Cassidy who wins judgement for his client for triple damages to the tune of close to ten thousand dollars. At the signing of the agreement, Cole finds out that Brenna’s incompetent lawyer has not bothered to tell her about the terms of the agreement – if she signs she will admit fraud. When Cole explains this, Brenna refuses to sign and Cole is dismissed from his fast-track position in a high-powered law firm.
Several months later, Cole is in a bar investigating some background for a client (he is an independent attorney now). His waitress turns out to be Brenna. She is working several jobs to pay off the bad-check judgement and needless to say, is not jumping with joy to see Cole. Cole is happy to see Brenna again – he has residual guilt feelings about his conduct during the trial and he is just plain attracted to her.
Cole begins a quiet, but dedicated courtship of Brenna. The more he sees of her, the more he loves her. Brenna is smart, funny, and kind – perfectly at ease in any social situation and able to charm everyone from little kids to Cole’s lawyer friends. As for Brenna, the more she sees of Cole, the more she is attracted to him. Cole is a man with deep-rooted values, he is honest and hard-working and he is deeply devoted to his family. Brenna grew up with a cold, disapproving martinet of a father. She sees in Cole’s interaction with his own father that members of a family can disagree and even fight, but never stop loving each other.
Brenna and Cole would be a perfect couple except for a secret of Brenna’s – she is illiterate. Brenna dropped out of school at the age of fourteen and never learned to read. Like many adult illiterates, she is very intelligent and has learned many coping skills to disguise the fact that she can’t read. Brenna is ashamed of her illiteracy and terrified that Cole will reject her when if he finds out. Her own father is still cold and disapproving. He believes that hard work and trying your best are not good enough – only perfection is acceptable. Will Cole have the same attitude?
Cassidy’s Courtship addresses a very real and under-reported problem in this country. The percentage of adult functional illiterates is higher than we would like to admit. I read this book a week after a report came out that found the number of functionally illiterate adults in several of the counties that surround where I live, was as high as 47%. What is so good about this book is that Cassidy’s Courtship is not just a problem novel. Cole Cassidy and Brenna James are likable and realistic characters and the emphasis of the story is very much on them and their relationship. The secondary characters are also vivid and real. Brenna’s sympathetic brother, her cold father, her good friend and reading teacher, and Cole’s warm and kind family are all wonderful characters.
I would recommend Cassidy’s Courtship to everyone especially those readers who shy away from category romances. It is short and easy to read, has life-like and likable characters and leaves you thinking but does not preach at you. I hope Sharon Mignerey continues with Silhouette – she has certainly made an impressive debut.