Everything She's Ever Wanted

Red Wolf’s Return
by Mary J. Forbes
(Silh. Special Ed. #1858, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0373-24858-X
This is the second category romance I have read this month about a breast cancer survivor and a new love. In this one, Meg McKee has been shunned by her ex, a plastic surgeon who commented that he could have done much better on her reconstruction surgery than what she ended up with. This ruined her confidence and led to their divorce. Another man with whom she got serious shunned her because he didn’t think she could breast feed any children they might have. Meg is heart sore.

Meg has returned to her home town of Sweet Creek, Montana to raise her teenage son. She is the sheriff, turning in her life in LA for the peace she remembers from the mountain town. Her son Beau is not thrilled with the move and is actually suffering from the divorce. His father rarely contacts him, yet he wants to be recognized as his son. This has led him to some stunts that have gotten him into trouble with the law but primarily from his mom.

The town has some conflict going on, too. An old resident has died and left his grandson, who is half-Blackfoot, his land. Previously this land was used as a shooting range and hosted a “festival” that allowed men and boys to show off their shooting prowess. However, when the land was left to Ethan Red Wolf, the festival and the range were shut down. Ethan has dreams of building a horse training ranch where he can teach troubled and handicapped kids to heal through work with horses. It is a dream that grew from his childhood when he was ridiculed by bigots and which almost caused him to turn into a troubled youth himself. What kept him centered was his mother, who loved his father and treated him with love and respect despite his mixed heritage, and Meg.

Meg and Ethan became friends when they were in elementary school. They believed they had found their soul mates and were inseparable during high school. In fact, they believed themselves in love. But there was a tragedy and they had a fight, with the end result of Meg leaving for college and Ethan nursing his broken heart at home. He made a name as a photographer and artist. Now, twenty-five years later, Ethan has decided to see what he and Meg still have in common. Meg has been cancer free for seven years and in Sweet Creek for almost six. They have spoken, but now Ethan has a reason to seek her out. Someone has killed an eagle on his land and seems to be threatening him for not opening up the shooting range again.

Meg and Ethan are intriguing characters, with plenty of backstory and much drama in their lives. They are unfulfilled however, and it is clear that they still are attracted and have a connection. This part of the story works well.

But there is a sense that the timing is way off and there isn’t any real explanation for it. Why now does Ethan want to rekindle their relationship when Meg has been there for six years? Why does the town start putting pressure on him now, when the shooting range has been closed for a good while? Why do the bullies from Ethan’s past just now start causing him problems? Even the title seemed off – Ethan has never really left, so why the “return”? The lack of real answers lessened my enjoyment of the story.

Red Wolf’s Return is an enjoyable story because the romance is acceptable. Just don’t peer too deeply.

--Shirley Lyons

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