Cold Night, Warm Stranger

Never Love a Cowboy

Night Thunder

Once an Outlaw

Rough Wrangler,
Tender Kisses

Thunder at Dawn

Thunder Creek

Wolf River by Jill Gregory
(Bantam, $6.99, PG) ISBN 978-0440-24304-5
Jill Gregory has come through once again with a wonderful story of love, with a decent and often surprising suspense plot thrown in for good measure. While some of Wolf River is rather predictable, she takes familiar plot lines and adds a slight twist. The end result is a book readers can sink their teeth into.

Wolf River is the town in Montana to which 15-year-old Devon Stanton has run away with her boyfriend, Hank Wheeler. Her sister, Tiffany Erinn Stanton, a.k.a. Erinn Winters, is bound and determined to get her and bring her back to New York. Erinn is a children’s book writer. In fact, she has written a series of books about Devonshire, with her sister as the heroine. They have been estranged for many years, ever since Erinn ran away herself. Their father, multi-millionaire Dane Stanton, drove them both away. He is dead and Erinn wants to rescue Devon, like she should have done years before.

But Devon is tied up with the Wheeler brothers and getting her away is harder than it might appear. Mick Wheeler is Hank’s older brother, a man who is cruel to be cruel and who is involved in some nefarious schemes that are slowly revealed as the tale unfolds. Devon loves Hank but is scared to death of Mick. Another man, Frank Wells, is also in the picture.

When Erinn arrives in Wolf River, she meets Jase Fortune. The Fortune’s Way spread is one of the largest around. Jase is the oldest son and has taken over the operations of the spread now that Clay, his father, has been diagnosed with a heart condition. He has a brother Colton and sister Lily. Also involved in the plot are some of their ranch hands, namely their foreman Rawley and Jase’s best friend, Culp. Culp’s sister LeeAnn is a past interest of Jase’s. The story follows Erinn as she tries to convince Devon that she is here to stay in her life and that life is better than what she has in the shack she is sharing with the Wheelers. She slowly realizes she and Jase are attracted and they try to work out what they have. Behind these two stories we have someone shooting Fortune cattle and soon humans are getting hurt.

This was a nicely paced story and the romance between Jase and Erinn heats up fast and almost jumps off the pages. The plot twists around the mysteries involve Erinn, as she has visions which she has struggled with most of her life that lead to crime scenes. Her visions are different here in that they have been more frequent and they have come on her during the day, rather than at night in her sleep. As she wrestles with what this means, she also has to decide how much of her past to share and with whom. Jase has been badly burned by one marriage and he is gun shy. He has to battle his past demons to open his heart to Erinn.

While the romance is the piece that is most engaging, it is the mix of the unknown with the suspense that really moves the story. Gregory gives us plenty of options to choose from and still manages to surprise us at the end.

I had a slight problem with Devon’s character. She was a bit young and yet, she had run away and been on her own for a while. She seemed to recover from trauma and trust again a little too quickly for reality, given her situation. There was also a tinge of the “small town wonder” that often accompanies a story where the heroine is coming from the big city to a rather remote area. Erinn goes from what apparently was a life without any real relationships to having plenty of bosom buddies who easily accept her and take her into their lives in just a few short weeks.

These are minor distractions however, when in the heart of the story. Gregory has once again delivered a solid story and an enjoyable romance in Wolf River.

--Shirley Lyons

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