Rio Grande Wedding by Ruth Wind

A shirtless man in dark jeans with shoulder-length, dark brown hair leans in towards a blonde woman wearing a pink bathrobe. They're in a sunny kitchen, standing next to a counter that has two coffee cups on it.This is another Harlequin I grabbed during the BooksOnBoard Black Friday sale. I saw the words “Green card groom,” and immediately downloaded the sample. Marriages of convenience are one of my very favorite romance tropes, so I was an easy sell.

Widowed nurse Molly Sheffield finds a wounded migrant worker on her property and takes it upon herself to nurse him back to health after he begs her not to call an ambulance. Undocumented immigrant Alejandro Sosa hates to burden the strange woman who’s rescued him, but he can’t risk deportation – not while his eight year old niece is stranded alone in the wilderness after an immigration raid. Struck by Alejandro’s devotion to his niece, or perhaps due to four lonely years alone on her secluded New Mexico farm, Molly decides to do everything she can to keep him together with his niece in America, even if her deputy sheriff brother suspects they’re marrying only to secure a green card.

I really enjoyed this modern take on a marriage of convenience. Wind – who also writes as Barbara Samuel – treats the heady subject with a lot of sensitivity and avoids any grandstanding. Molly’s brother is the story’s antagonist, but he remains sympathetic or at least relatable even with his zero tolerance approach to illegal immigration. Alejandro isn’t some Woobie forced into the role of victim, he’s got some misgivings and doubts over whether he’s making the right decision to work as a migrant laborer in the US. I liked all the characters more for having some flaws.

Where the book wasn’t perfect was in the timing. Everything in the book takes place over a very short period of time. I can buy a week-long whirlwind romance ok, but resolving immigration status, family drama, a gunshot wound *and* tuberculosis as well within a week is a bit much. I really enjoyed the hero and heroine, but I had to put my “this is fantasy” glasses on to digest the neat and tidy ending. B-

~65,000 words
Published October 1st 1999 by Silhouette Intimate Moments