Hawk's Woman

The Price of Honor

Until You

 
The Other Brother
by Janis Reams Hudson
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1626. $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-24626-9
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The Other Brother is the middle brother of three who grew up on the Cherokee Rose ranch and are featured in the series Men of the Cherokee Rose. Sloan, the oldest, is now married and was Melanie Pruitt’s crush as she was growing up. Justin, the youngest, was her playmate who she hung out with when she wanted to have some fun. And Caleb Chisholm was her best friend. Caleb was a few years older than Melanie and was her confidant, her friend and the one she could rely on when she needed to talk something out or cry on his shoulder. Until the night that Sloan got married. The kiss Melanie and Caleb shared that night changed everything.

Starting out as a joke to “protect” Caleb from one of their neighbors who was out to tag him for a dance, Melanie laid her lips on him and the room stood still. They both felt the heat and didn’t have a clue what to do with this totally unexpected development. So they decided to ignore it. That lasted for about a day.

Now they are trying to figure out how to remain friends and still deal with the jolts of lightning that confront them every time they touch. To top things off, things are not going well for Melanie and her family on their ranch. Dad is gambling and running up the debts. Mom has left home, seeking fun and fortune by running up the credit cards. The ranch is barely paying for itself and Melanie doesn’t know how to get her parents to start acting like adults. Now there is this thing with Caleb.

What starts off with some predictability slowly emerges into a tale with some depth. There is a sub plot about the gambling goons trying to get Dad to pay, and Mom spending $10,000 at a clinic for some unknown medical procedure. Then there is Melanie trying to keep it all together and finally standing up to her parents. But too soon, predictability takes over and then some pretty farfetched things start to happen. First, Melanie and Caleb are staying together at the ranch, because Caleb wants to protect her from the goons. Yep, you guessed it – more than just sleeping occurs. Then they start arguing with each other about what that means and they become so argumentative and childish, it is hard to remember what they liked about each other.

The “farfetched” comes in with the smuggling of illegal immigrants and an unexpected birth out in the middle of nowhere on the ranch (one of these immigrants has the child) followed by the final showdown with the bad guys. And after all this, Caleb still has to convince Melanie he really wants to marry her.

Melanie goes from a determined, hard-working woman to a wishy-washy, self-centered girl who can’t make up her mind. It just didn’t hold water with me. Caleb, meanwhile, goes from being her best friend encouraging her to stand up to her parents to an over-protective oaf who just wants the love of his life to be safe. Trust me, as the song goes, love did them wrong.

I did enjoy the feeling of family that the two ranches seemed to hold. Unfortunately once you get to know them, you are ready to leave for a different family. Dad is a skunk who wallows in self-pity, but since he loves Melanie, that should be all right. Mom is selfish, leaving her family to get attention.

The only family member I did like was Justin, and it will be interesting to see if he gets better treatment in his story than Caleb got in this tale. The Other Brother has its moments; unfortunately they couldn’t carry the story.

--Shirley Lyons


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