Maternity Leave

Promise Me Tomorrow

A Stolen Heart

Swept Away

Hard-Headed Texan by Candace Camp
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1081, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-27151-4
Hard-Headed Texan was a wonderful read up until the final Dark Moment and Separation. Then it stumbled, and badly. The magic was, if not gone, severely diminished.

Antonia Campbell is the new vet in the small town of Angel Eye, Texas. She’s left behind an abusive ex-husband who put her in the hospital, and her new life now consists of a career she’s always dreamed of, a small house and a cat named Mitzi. Then she takes a call to Daniel Sutton’s ranch to assist a mare with a difficult foaling.

Daniel takes one look at the elegant, six-foot blonde and demands to know where the real vet is. Well. Sparks fly, and before the day is out, Daniel has a healthy new foal and a healthy new interest in women. One woman in particular.

Antonia is equally interested, but the town gossips are quick to fill her in on Daniel’s background. Married right out of high school. Father to a teenage son. Wife left when the boy was a toddler, and rumor has it Daniel is still carrying a torch for his ex. But if he’s still wrapped up in his former wife, why is he calling Antonia and asking her out?

Antonia has other worries, too. She’s receiving phone calls with nobody on the other end. Prank caller? Or has her ex-husband found her?

Hard-Headed Texan is full of sweet moments, mostly driven by Daniel’s character. He’s mesmerized by Antonia, but he’s basically a shy sort of guy. Daniel freely admits he’s out of practice in dating and hasn’t the foggiest idea of how to do it right. So what does he do? Invites her to the Senior Prom, where he’s supposed to act as a chaperone. Needless to say, Antonia is delighted, and soon their relationship is heating up. The sexual magnetism is strong. Now, if they can both admit this is what they really want…

Antonia and Daniel really give this story its appeal. There’s nothing particularly new about the abuse premise, and Daniel’s large family with three unmarried brothers is a transparent setup to more books in this series. And after enjoying Daniel and Antonia’s deepening relationship, it was a real disappointment to this reader when the climax turned out to be predictable and cliched. Without giving away the plot (not that you couldn’t construct it for yourself), let’s just say that Antonia, who had been a smart, strong, and fairly sassy heroine up to this point, completely devolves into an accusation-hurling shrew. This reader wanted no part of it. I know, the subject of spousal abuse is touchy at best, but here the aftereffects came out of the blue and seemed completely unjustified.

Hard-Headed Texan offers a hero who will steal your heart. And while the story didn’t completely satisfy, I liked the residents of Angel Eye enough to go back for more of this series.

--Cathy Sova

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