Rancher Under Cover
by Carla Cassidy
(HRS #1676, $5.25, PG) ISBN 978- 0-373-27746-9
**
Rancher Under Cover is part of a series written by different romance writers chronicling the saga of the Kelly Family. It is probably necessary to know that Senator Hank Kelly became a member of the Raven's Head Society that, unbeknownst to him, has the goal of assassinating the President of the United States. Kelly involved some of his friends in this secret society before he discovered its purpose. One such friend is Mickey O'Donahue, rancher.

Caitlin O' Donahue was a physician working for Doctors Without Borders in a Central American country when she was abducted from her campsite and raped, with the taunt she should tell her father his friends said hello. Traumatized, she returned home.

Caitlin was saddened and surprised to find her father out of town on business. She finds Esmeralda, the housekeeper who had been her surrogate mother, worried about having not heard from her father. It appears ranching is going on as usual but there is a new hire to met,

Rhett Kane, masquerading as Randall Kane is an undercover agent sent to arrest Mickey Donahue for his role in the secret society. He arrived too late to arrest him, and is marking time awaiting his return. Meanwhile he is taking the place of a former worker who had abused the horses through neglect. Since Caitlin is fond of horses, she becomes drawn to Kane as he tries to help one particularly abused animal.

Caitlin grew up knowing the Kelly family so when she starts checking she finds Lana, the daughter of Hank Kelly, has been kidnapped and Hank Kelly has gone into hiding after many of his mistresses came forward. It appears to the world that this is his biggest worry, but in reality Kelly knew it was the Raven's Head Society. Caitlin is brought into the loop and worries about her father.

The story drifts as they are more or less waiting for Mickey O'Donahue to come home. During this period Randall and Caitlin get to know each other and in a remarkably short time Kane eases her trauma sustained through the rape.

There are essentially only three characters, Caitlin, Esmeralda and Kane, and they are defined only by their respective roles. The plot is simple, the three main characters not knowing where Mickey has gone, wait for him to come home. The maturing of the relationship between Caitlin and Kane is fairly stress-free in the face of the trauma Caitlin had sustained in Central America. And the ending is predictable. All in all, this one is not one of the authorís best.

--Thea Davis


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