Knight in a White Stetson
by Claire King
(Silh. Int. Mom. #930, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07930-3
****
This reviewer extends an enthusiastic welcome to Claire King, the newest writer in Silhouette's house of authors. Knight in a White Stetson, with its witty and clever plot, is set in the rarely visited state of Idaho. King effortlessly creates intriguing and lively characters.

Calla Bishop dropped out of Dartmouth College when her mother was dying of cancer to return to the Idaho ranch that had been in her family for over a hundred years. Her father, the town librarian, was little interested in running the ranch and Calla took her mother's place managing it. Calla retains a vestige of her college days in the persona of Clarkston Shaw III, Dartmouth, Class of '89.

Shaw and his family are big time property developers and a more pompous character would be hard to find. Since they have business in Idaho, Shaw has reappeared in her life, courting her in the grand old style. Calla is teetering financially since her mother had mortgaged the ranch to pay for her education. Unabashedly, she sees marriage to Shaw as an opportunity to save the ranch; she truly likes him well enough.

Until the day Calla has a flat tire on a little used road 20 miles from home, only to find that an employee has removed the jack. While waiting for it to get a little cooler to start her long trek home, Henry Beckett appears as the "Knight." Later, he shows up looking for a job; since haying season is starting and Calla needs help, she hires him.

Henry joins her family which includes a ranch worker, her aunt and father. Claire King does a very good job developing these secondary characters, and of course Henry is not the drifter he appears to be. He is really a Ph.D. in disguise, a dropout from the world of science and industry for an unusual reason.

Calla tries to ignore her attraction to Henry, especially when she realizes she will be unable to make the balloon payment and the bank lets her know they intend to foreclose. This suddenly forces the reality of formalizing marriage plans and the chase is on.

Scenes change rapidly and seamlessly in this fast moving love story with unusual elements of intrigue and refreshingly honest dialogue. Knight in a White Stetson is a well-structured, strongly visual story with multi-dimensional characters. There is the predictable baggage that each character brings to a relationship, but here it is treated without overbearing in the angst department.

Rest assured that this is an author who will be around for a long time. Again, welcome Claire King.

--Thea Davis


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