The Truth About Plain Jane
by Roxanne Delaney
(Sil. Rom # 1748, $4.25, G) ISBN 0-373-19748-9
***
Meg Chastain has finally gotten her first big break. She has been working as a secretary at Trail's End magazine for years and now she has a chance to be a reporter. Meg has been sent to the Triple B Dude Ranch in order to review it and write up an article for the magazine. She has been sent incognito wearing a wig to cover her hair and large size clothes to cover her svelte figure hence the title The Truth About Plain Jane. If she can successfully complete this article, she will have enough money to move her elderly Aunt Dee from Gary, Indiana to a more suitable climate for her asthma.

Buford Brannigan III, or Trey to his family and friends, needs some good luck to turn things around and make sure the working ranch stays financially stable. He is the operations mind behind the ranch, even though he and his two brothers are co-owners. He has no intentions of settling down with one woman, but the ranch in the heart of Texas is definitely his home. He is excited that Trail's End is sending a reviewer, and knows their method is not to reveal who it is in order to get an unbiased look at the ranch. He hopes a good rating will help the guest list expand.

When Meg and Trey meet, sparks fly. Meg is immediately attracted to the cowboy even as she tries to fight the response she has to him. Trey is intrigued, guessing that Meg is more than she lets on, but leery of getting too close to a guest of the ranch. But they are constantly thrown together when the ranch becomes short-handed and Trey has to pull double duties. He helps Meg learn to ride and shows off the beauty of the ranch. But Meg has a secret and Trey doesn't want commitment.

Secondary characters are a nice part of the story. Brother Chace and his lovely bride Ellie show the two what married life can be and at the same time, push the two together as matchmakers. They also act as confidantes. The ranch hands and other guests are much less developed and yet add to the feel of the dude ranch activities.

The pace of the story slows at times, as there isn't much action beyond the interactions of Trey and Meg. Meg accuses Trey of running hot and cold on her and that is just how their romance seems to fare. At times, it is engaging and romantic. At other times, they are pushing each other away and it leaves the reader feeling a little out in the cold. The whole premise of Meg's need for a disguise is solved at the end, but the sense that this is a lot of pretense for nothing permeated my feelings through much of the story.

Overall, The Truth About Plain Jane is a decent story with a nice romantic ending. It doesn't light any fires, but its an entertaining way to spend a few hours.

--Shirley Lyons


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