Call of Duty

Countess in Buckskin

Duty and Dishonor

Lady of the Upper Kingdom

Line of Duty

The Mercenary
& the New Mom

Return to Sender
River Rising

The Tiger's Bride

Undercover Groom

The Harder They Fall
by Merline Lovelace
(Silh. Int. Mom. 999, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-270689-0
Evan Henderson, hotshot assistant D.A., takes a tumble in more ways than one when his motorcycle lands in a ditch in the desert. He is left stranded with a motorcycle that canít be used. The person who comes by and rescues him is Lissa James, a reclusive, beautiful female who lives in Paradise. Paradise is as much a part of the story as Evan, Lissa and the rest of the secondary characters. There doesnít seem to be much to Paradise -- just a small store and a garage that can fix Evanís motorcycle, a few residents and Lissa who lives in a small trailer at the edge of town.

Lissa, who had a career as a gospel signer and then a crossover country star, had made millions until her sleazy manager bilked her and others of their money. Both she and the manager were indicted for fraud. He escaped, she was left to try to pay off their debts and flee the curious who wanted to know more. But even before Evan shows up, the past is starting to intrude on Lissa. Someone is prowling near her trailer at night and while Evan is in town a reporter shows up in search of the vanished country singer. Lissa doesnít want to listen to the other residents in Paradise when they tell her it may be time for her to leave, but she is starting to wonder if she will have any choice in the matter.

Evan and Lissa are interested in each other of course. His career doesnít allow him to stay in Paradise for long but their attraction doesnít let him stay away. But his desire to ferret out truth keeps Lissa wary. She doesnít want others to know about her past. Lissa wavers between her natural inclination to help others and her newly acquired ability to shut others out as Evan tries to get close. Evan isnít even sure why he wants to get close, of course, since he has plenty of eager women waiting for him elsewhere and has no desire to get involved permanently.

Evanís gradual fall into love is well done. His love for his own family makes him more than a handsome but one-dimensional hero. Lissa is also interesting, though not necessarily as believable a character. She remains a bit passive through the story although you can understand and sympathize with her desire to hide out while she works on paying off her debts.

Still, you like them both and root for their success in sorting out Lissaís problems. They are sorted out, of course. Some of the sorting out is a little too easy, but it isnít outside the realm of possibility. This book is certainly worth a read -- and makes you want to read the rest of the series on the Hendersons, since it looks like some of the brothersí problems are going to be harder to work out.

--Irene Williams

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