Dance on the Wind

Love Only Once

Whispers on the Wind
by Brenda K. Jernigan
(Zebra, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-7536-7
Whispers on the Wind is the third novel in Jerniganís ďMisfitĒ Series. This book works very well as a stand alone. Any characters whose stories are told in previous books are given adequate backgrounds so the reader feels comfortable with them.

Chapter One begins in 1872 in Pikes Peak in the Colorado Territory, where Mary Costner was given half a claim to a gold mine. Mary and her partner, Big Jim, had been working together for two years and both became fairly wealthy from the gold theyíd found. During the two years, Big Jim had become like a father to Mary and they got along very well. During this time Mary disguises herself as a boy named Mark so the men in the mining camp wonít give her any trouble.

Everything changed one morning when Mary wakes up covered in blood with a knife in her hand and Big Jim dead on the floor. Mary doesnít remember anything from the night before. Certain she will hang for a murder she is convinced she didnít commit, Mary gets on her horse and runs as fast as she can. She rides for hours until her horse stumbles and she is thrown face first into the snow. She is rescued by US Marshall Carter Monroe who finds her unconscious in the snow.

Carter takes her to a nearby hotel where a doctor checks on her. The doctor says she is fine, but because she has a nasty bump on her head it may take her a while to wake and she may not remember anything immediately. When Mary does wake and finds herself in the company of a lawman, she begins to panic. Carter assumes she doesnít remember who she is or what happened and she plays along with that because she doesnít want to tell him about Big Jimís murder and the part she may or may not have played in it.

Carter just happens to have a temporary assignment in his hometown, so he takes Mary to his family home where she can recover from her injury and hopefully regain her memory. Mary and Judith, Carterís mother, take an instant liking to one another and spend most of the next few weeks together enjoying each otherís company. Eventually Carter finds out who Mary is, but not before she escapes on horseback. Carter finds her and is determined to follow the law and take her back to the mining town to stand trial for Big Jimís murder.

Somewhere along the way Carter and Mary find themselves attracted to each other, although they both tend to deny any feelings other than attraction. Since there is no love involved, it was a bit hard to believe that neither of them considered any type of birth control when they first decide to give in to their attractions. But this takes backseat to the fact that any type of romance was nearly non-existent. It was easier to believe their denial of feelings than to believe that they might actually care for each other. By the end of the story, I didnít care if they ended up together or not. There just wasnít a strong enough attraction for me to believe a romance or anything further was inevitable.

There was another large part of the story that was very hard to swallow. This involved the hypnotic control that one character had over another. Credit is due for the originality of the idea, but, regrettably, the author just doesnít pull it off well enough to be believable. Unfortunately, this gave discredit to the entire book because this plot device was a major one.

Whispers on the Wind is interesting enough to read if you like light murder mysteries. The reader is left guessing if Mary really killed Big Jim or not right up until the very end. But if you insist on a strong romance, you definitely wonít find it within the pages of this book.

--Tracy Merritt

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