Always in My Heart

Annie's Song

Baby Love

Blue Skies

Bright Eyes

Cherish

Forever After

Keegan's Lady

My Sunshine

Only By Your Touch

Phantom Waltz

Seventh Heaven

Simply Love

Summer Breeze

Sweet Nothings

 
Sun Kissed
by Catherine Anderson
(Signet, $7.99, PG) ISBN 798-0-451-21895-7
***
If you’re read many Catherine Anderson books, you know her plots follow a standard formula. This formula can be expressed by the following equation:

T(LS)H W/ TP + S(AS)H X MSA –> TL & HEA*

* + CK W/ P n

This translates as: Tormented (Long Suffering) Heroine with a Troubled Past plus Sympathetic (Almost Saintly) Hero times Much Stress and Anguish leads to True Love and a Happily Ever After. The * signifies that the formula can be taken to the nth power if a cute kid with a heart-wrenching problem is added to the mix.

Once Ms. Anderson developed this formula, she’s stuck to it religiously even to the point of having inter-related stories and families. It’s obviously worked for her because she’s one of the top tier authors of the romance genre. If you’ve read and enjoyed her books in the past, you’ll probably like this one too because it’s more of the same (minus the cute kid variation).

Samantha Harrigan is owner of a ranch where she breeds and trains horses. Tucker Coulter is a veterinarian and the brother of the hero of the author’s My Sunshine. They meet at a rodeo when Samantha tries to stop a man from abusing his horse. The ensuing altercation lands them both in jail overnight. Samantha is impressed by Tucker, but her experience with an abusive husband has made her wary of men.

Samantha and her four brothers (can there be more sequels in the works?) are the children of Frank Harrigan, who’s famous for his quarter horses. Her brothers and father are understandably protective of her after her disastrous marriage, but she wants to be her “own person” and not depend on the men in her family. Samantha runs her ranch with a small number of hands including an older foreman and a younger woman.

Frank had checked up on Tucker after the rodeo incident and learned he has a stellar reputation as a vet, but Samantha already has a vet and is reluctant to get further involved with Tucker. Problems with two of her horses, however, force her to make an emergency call. Due to his professional training and well-developed sixth sense, Tucker manages to save both horses. He has strong reasons to believe her horses have been poisoned.

In spite of Samantha’s best intentions to stay away from Tucker, their new association will inevitably lead to more than a merely professional relationship.

Sun Kissed is classic Catherine Anderson formula. The heroine has been through physical and emotional trials; the hero is a real hunk and a paragon of manly virtues. The villain in the piece is easy to figure out. The wonder is that it doesn’t occur to Samantha right away.

The story’s romance is the inevitable result of putting two good looking and deserving people together for several chapters and letting nature take its course. Unfortunately, what’s noticeably lacking in Sun Kissedis the passion and depth of feeling that earned such books as Annie’s Song and Forever After a recommended rating from TRR.

When an author’s works become formulaic, the thrill is gone. Sun Kissed might be an acceptable romance, but it’s no more than that. I’m ready for a kick-ass heroine who’s led a relatively untraumatic life, is able to take care of herself, and isn’t in dire need of a man to rescue her.

--Lesley Dunlap


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