Did You Say Married?

The Rough and Ready Rancher
by Kathie Denosky
(Silh. Desire #1355, $3.99, PG) 0-373-76355-7
J.J. Adams is horse trainer. A fine horse trainer. And Flint McCray needs one to train his potential champion, Black Satin. But after he’s signed the contract he actually meets J.J. He hits the roof when he finds out she’s Jenna Adams and she’s a girl. Um, a female. (Though he seems to react the way a 10-year-old boy might when he finds out a girl can do something better than he can.)

Jenna is used to bad attitudes from ranchers. She knows she can do the job. Well, she thinks she can until she realizes that Flint isn’t going to just accept her once he’s seen what she can do. He doesn’t even want to give it a try. Still, she needs the money and she’s got a contract. Besides, Flint is making her stubborn. She decides she isn’t going to just go away.

Flint has dealt with females who have bad attitudes before. He was married to a female like that for far too long. Naturally, his viewpoint is a little jaded by that experience. He’s further annoyed to realize that he’s got the hots for this horse trainer, even though she irritates him. Even worse, she does seem to be able to deal with Black Satin, although her methods are unorthodox. Still, he doesn’t want some strange female intruding on his life, especially when there is some major cattle rustling happening on his ranch right now. The situation is much too dangerous to have Jenna around.

Have you gathered that Flint gives me a great big pain? I could get over his initial mistrust of Jenna, since he feels as though he’s been betrayed when she allows him to believe he’s hiring a man. But he never seems to really get over it. So why does Jenna fall for him? Well, there’s one quote that sticks in my mind: “ . . . he was all male and thoroughly aroused.” That would be Flint’s best feature, so to speak. There doesn’t seem to be much else. He wavers between being overprotective of Jenna - you can’t get on that horse or do ranch work because you might hurt yourself - and overly suspicious of her - how did you get a lot of money and do you have anything to do with the rustling? He takes way too long to redeem himself and what he does to show his contrition doesn’t do much for me. In fact he never seems to fully grasp what a dolt he’s been.

The author does seem to know about ranching and riding, which makes a lot of the background material sound authentic. Jenna is all right, except for her bad taste in men. A lot of the secondary characters, like the cowboys and Jenna’s brother, are interesting. But if you keep wanting the heroine to keep away from the hero (well, OK, the sex scenes were sort of fun so maybe you just don’t want her to think about marriage), what kind of romance do you have?

--Irene Williams

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