The Cowboy She
Never Forgot

Hartís Last Stand by Cheryl Biggs
(Silh, Int, Mom. # 1073, $4.50, PG) ISBN-0-373-27143-3
Suzanne Cassidy is a widow. Her husband was a helicopter pilot in the elite Cobra corps. While on a mission in enemy territory, his helicopter was hit by a missile. His commanding officer, Hart Branson, saw the helicopter explode and his identification was sufficient to have Rick Cassidy declared dead.

Two years have passed, and the FBI is investigating Suzanne Cassidy for selling military secrets. A very large bank deposit that Suzanne knows nothing about surfaces. The FBIís theory is that she and her husband were accomplices, and that he did not die in the fiery crash. When the FBI turns up the pressure, a frightened Suzanne decides there is only one person she can trustÖHart Branson.

Hart and Suzanne have a slight history. Suzanneís marriage had fallen apart long before the crash and when she and Hart met, they were very attracted to each other. Carefully each controlled it, but this is now.

What Suzanne doesnít know that Hart hates himself for his initial reaction to her, and has come to hate her because he thinks she played a major role in the death of her husband. He believes this because Rick had told him prior to the fatal flight that Suzanne had asked for a divorce. In reality, Rick had told Suzanne he was seeking oneÖbut how does she prove that?

Hart does not want to help Suzanne prove her innocence. He feels she deserves everything that happens to her. Rick had been his one true friend, and now he is gone. This is just one of his deep-seated abandonment issues which, along with foster home mistreatment issues, etc., become a tedious litany of how Hart has been aggrieved by life. However, when he realizes he is being investigated as a possible accomplice, he finally, reluctantly, steps forward to help.

Gradually Hart gains important insights -- knowing that the secrets stolen had to be taken by someone who was there the night of the fatal flight limits the number of potential suspects. But the path to solving the mystery is not a smooth one. Cleverly, Cheryl Biggs twists each coincidence and accidental meeting to sew more seeds of mistrust between Hart and Suzanne, while at the same time increasing the sexual tension between them.

One cautionary note: to truly enjoy this book the reader must be willing to suspend disbelief nonstop; otherwise there is a risk of being overwhelmed by anomalies. For example, Hartís investigation begins with wire-tapping Suzanneís telephone at a home where she is staying. The ease with which Hartís nineteen year old military aide instantly procured and executed the wire-tap is nothing short of astounding.

Hartís Last Stand is driven by its plot, but the principal characters and, more particularly, the evolving love story between Suzanne and Hart, are the best part of the book,

--Thea Davis

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