Bright Morning Star

The First Time

Raven's Bride

The Second Vow

The Third Daughter

 
Reunion by Kathryn Fox
(Zebra, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-7242-2
****
Most romances follow the pattern of the hero and heroine meeting, falling in love, pledging eternal devotion. Reunion starts with the hero and heroine in love and tests the durability of that eternal love. This isnít a whimsical story about how love ought to be; this is how love is when two good people try to build a life together. I found it a moving story with more depth than many romances.

Lauren Butler is to marry her Mounted Police fiancť Adam McPhail in 1894, but on the wedding day the wedding is postponed. Laurenís father, an Inspector with the Mounties, has suffered a severe stroke, and Lauren is needed to care for him in his illness. Adam has just received a new posting. He will not be staying in Regina, Saskatchewan, but rather is to take up a position in the Yukon. He says he will send for her.

Two years later he still has not sent for her so Lauren writes informing him that she is arriving. Adam still loves her but believes that the Yukon is too wild for a woman and intends to send her back.

Lauren is not so easily discouraged. Her fatherís doctor had expressed his interest in her, but Lauren is committed to Adam. Adam yields in the face of her determination, and they marry in a few days. Shortly thereafter she and Adam travel by dogsled into even more desolate country. He is to track down whiskey dealers selling illegal liquor to the Indians, particularly the notorious Black Angus, which is weakening the native populations.

With the exception of the local trader and his wife, Lauren and Adam are alone in the isolated territory. This is primitive country with few comforts and no luxuries. Adam builds them a small one-room cabin which includes a jail in one corner. He is still doubtful that Lauren can make it in such rough country, but she rises to the occasion, and their love deepens.

Inevitably, circumstances arise that will drive them apart and test whether their love can survive.

Reunion is a response to those romances that would portray love as one long laughfest. It features a wonderful hero and heroine, but it also doesnít hesitate to confront the truth that even the best-matched couples can suffer challenges that test their loveís endurance. Lauren and Adam are perfect for each other - theyíre willing to confront conditions that would discourage most couples - and I found myself rooting for them individually and as a pair.

I am willing to confess that I think Lauren is tougher than I could be in her place. Nevertheless, this is my kind of heroine: one with courage and determination. She knows what she wants and in spite of her fears and reservations she sets out to get it. Her uncertain Mountie husband, drunken Indians, and crooked whiskey dealers arenít going to stop her. Itís only a terrible loss that would devastate any woman that makes her question whether she has undertaken more than she can handle.

Similarly, Adam is an admirable hero, physically tough but emotionally tender. Dedicated to his calling, he is willing to sacrifice his personal life for a greater good, but he loves Lauren deeply. Heís that rare hero: a virgin on his wedding night. There are hints of difficulties between him and his father, but they are not fully explored in this book. Adam is an unusually appealing hero, and itís unfortunate that the author doesnít allow more insight into the forces that shaped him.

Reunion is a promising start to the Men of Honor series. Iíll be certain to look for the next book, The Seduction, due to be published soon. I hope that Lauren and Adam will have some role in that story because I wasnít ready to say Ďgood-byeí after 316 pages. Any book that leaves me wanting more deserves a hearty recommendation.

--Lesley Dunlap


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