The Marriage Lottery #7: Shannon and Brian by Caty Callahan is the seventh novel in The Marriage Lottery series and somewhere around the 30th novel in the overall The Bride Lottery series. I have thus far read six of these little gems and I’ve loved each one.
10 out of 10 stars. For those of you who love romance and think a lot of sex with singles is romance, you’re terribly mistaken. This is the stuff you read over and over again because it makes you believe in fairytale romances and true love. No words are wasted. There’s no vomited backstory, no superlative adjectives to describe the flora and fauna and junk I don’t care about. It’s a novella and it reads really fast. I read it twice in one sitting. I loved it.
The novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that’s more like frontier America. Men far outnumber women and so the lottery was created to give every man a fair shot at a bride. The Marriage Lottery series has more adult topics while the Bride Lottery series has more young adult topics. The ages vary from novel to novel. Shannon is 18, so I think this love story would appeal to young adults as much as to grown women.
Shannon O’Shaugnessy is an orphan and 18, just lottery age. She cares for her younger sisters and two brothers. They can be a handful. She deliberately brings them hundreds of miles away from their home to Sun City where no one knows them, hoping she’ll have a better shot at getting picked by a nice boy. The hotel manager, Mrs. Picket, tells her to choose Gabriel Blake, the handsomest brunette in town, that he would lovingly care for her little brothers and sisters. So Shannon marches down to Lottery Field, puts her name in, and stands across from the handsomest brunette there. Except he turns out to be Brian Bannon, not Gabriel Blake. Incidentally, Gabriel Blake is the goofiest looking guy in town and Mrs. Picket is his aunt.
Brian is wealthy, handsome, and stoic. He’s quiet and he has an ordered life. He built his ranch with his own two hands and made it very prosperous. The last thing he wants is someone else’s kids eating him out of house and home. The magistrate is the one who intervenes and tells Brian that if he doesn’t let them stay in his house, which is now half hers, he’ll take Shannon to the bank and get her access to all of his money which they will spend at the hotel. Brian is stuck and tries to make the best out of a bad situation.
Before long the kids fall in love with Brian, just as quickly as Shannon, because no matter what he may say, he acts quite differently. He acts like a father to her little brothers and sisters, and a gentle father. When Brian’s parents meet the kids, they fall in love too and then it’s even harder for Brian to get loose of the O’Shaughnessy’s.
The conflict comes to a head when the kids start calling his parents Grandma and Grandpa even after he tells them they can’t. He tells them in no uncertain terms that his parents are his future children’s grandparents and not theirs. Even though his parents told them to call him Grandma and Grandpa. That’s the point where Shannon realizes he will never change and that it’s time for her to check out her other options by putting up a notice in the General Store that she’s looking for her next husband. Who do you think wants to date her? You guessed it, the magistrate Marcus Wiley who has a serious crush on Shannon.
On Sunday, they went to his parents’ house for dinner, against his better judgment.
While Shannon and his mother cooked and talked in the kitchen, the kids came with him onto the porch and sat with his father.
“What kind of chair is that?” Declan asked.
“It’s a recliner,” his father said.
“Can I sit in it?”
His father got up and sat next to Brian and Bridget on the sofa.
“You can sit here, Mr. Bannon,” Sean said, getting up from one of the side chairs.
“Call me Henry,” his father said. “I’m fine here. Sitting next to Bridget.”
And just like that Bridget crawled onto his father’s lap and kissed him on the cheek. “You smell good, like Brian,” she said.
His father laughed softly. “Well Charlotte says I smell like apple spice.”
“No, like old sweaters,” Bridget said.
“And you like old sweaters?” his father said.
“Yes, they’re my favorites. They feel like a hug,” Bridget said.
His father nodded, then kissed her on the cheek.
Katie sat up straighter and stared across the street. “Who’s that?”
Brian glanced across the street and sighed. “That’s Kim Travers.”
“No, the boy.”
“That’s Kim Travers.”
She blinked and frowned at him. “That’s a girl’s name.”
“Yes, it is.”
“That whole family is a little odd,” his father said. “Best not be looking for your lottery ticket in that direction.”
“There has to be someone in this town my age. That’s a boy. Without a girl’s name,” Katie said.
“You have five years to wait. What’s the hurry?” Brian said.
“So I can get away from my sister’s bossiness.”
“You’re lucky she’s bossy. Or we’d be sitting up in Montblanc eating through the last of Ma and Pa’s savings,” Sean said.
“How’d your parents die?” Brian asked.
Katie got up and disappeared into the house.
“She does that,” Declan said.
“She doesn’t like talking about it,” Bridget said. “Especially Ma.”
“We don’t have to talk about it,” Brian said.
“Pa got pulled under the tractor,” Sean said. “Closed casket.”
“Ma died of pneumonia last winter,” Bridget said. “She always smelled like Shannon.”
“What does Shannon smell like?” Brian said.
Sean and Declan laughed.
Just as Brian realizes it’s time to decide whether or not he wants to keep Shannon and her brothers and sisters, there’s an accident and he almost loses them all. Soon a parade of men from all over the area come knocking on his parents’ door looking to date Shannon. It’s funny, romantic, and totally charming.
10 out of 10 stars. I loved it.
Reviewed by Jill.