Cold Night, Warm Stranger

Just This Once

Never Love a Cowboy

 
Rough Wrangler, Tender Kisses
by Jill Gregory
(Dell, $6.50, PG) ISBN 0-440-23548-0
***
Caitlin Summers is forced to come West when her long-lost father dies. She needs money and his ranch belongs to her now - otherwise she would never have bothered. After all, Reese Summers had never bothered with her. When she discovers the ranch foreman, Wade Barclay, and his brothers had been adopted by Reese and had loved him dearly, her fatherís abandonment feels even worse. Then she discovers the terms of Reeseís will: she owns one fourth of the ranch, along with the Barclay brothers. Even worse, she canít sell out for a year because her father wanted it that way. She is promised some money to stay the year out but nothing else can happen until then.

Stop me if youíve heard this before. Yeah. So have I. But Iím the reviewer so I have to keep going. Caitlin has had two admirers in the past - one of whom she thinks broke her heart, while the other one she knows is terrorizing her. Wade Barclay is going to take care of all that, though. . . well at least he thinks he will deal with the terrorizing.

Even though he believes she is a snotty little Eastern annoyance, Wade owes Reese and heís attracted to Caitlin, so he does his best to watch over her. Of course the two of them become interested, if angry, at each other. Caitlin tries to annoy Wade to the point where he is willing to buy her out early but only gets into more and more trouble. She might have been willing to do that just to annoy Wade but she has another, more altruistic, reason. Caitlin needs money fast. She is desperate to save her baby sister from the family disgrace that was revealed when her stepfather died. Caitlin plans to make a new life for the two of them somewhere else with the money from the ranch.

Eventually, of course, Caitlin learns the truth about her father, who turns out to be the caring man that Wade had tried to tell her about.. She finds out her sister has run away from her boarding school. The bad guy appears from the East. Caitlinís little sister is rescued. Caitlinís evil admirer gets his comeuppance when he tries to steal the ranch and the heroine. And, of course, after much danger and difficulty, the hero and heroine get their proper reward, too.

There isnít anything wrong with the hero and heroine - they fight well, make love well, and overcome their prejudices against each other. Caitlin learns slowly but she finally gets it right and shows how devoted she is while she nurses a wounded Wade back to life. Wade is arrogant and macho but Caitlin tames him just enough to make him marriageable. Thatís fine, but there isnít anything that sets this book apart from a lot of other books like it. The plot and characters work, but they donít stand out, either.

--Irene Williams


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