A Stranger to Love

Widow Woman

Hidden In A Heartbeat
by Patricia McLinn
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1355, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-24355-3
Rebecca Dahlgren came to Far Hills Ranch in Wyoming in search of answers. Her mother had died when Rebecca was only 6, which left her in the hands of her extremely wealthy and proper grandmother. Rebecca has never known the identity of her father, or even the barest facts about him. Her search takes her to Far Hills when she happens across an old letter in her grandmother’s home in Delaware.

Rebecca gets a job setting up a computer system for the local historical society. Stating the need to supplement her income, she proposes a project to the owner of Far Hills, Marti Susland. Marti agrees with Rebecca that a computer system could really help out with the running of the ranch, but tells her she’ll need to work out the details with the foreman, Luke Chandler.

Luke is not happy at all to see Rebecca on the premises. He sees this computer system idea as just another one of Marti’s ploys to give him an owning share in the ranch. He loves his work, but has no desire to be tied down to anyone or anywhere. When he lays eyes on Rebecca, he knows he’s in for the fight of his life.

Rebecca is more than a little annoying at times. For one thing, she is continually under the thumb of her domineering grandmother. She constantly is told what to do, how to act, what to wear, and that her family name should be prized above all else. Rebecca repeatedly feels the need to apologize for her supposed shortcomings, and remains polite to nasty people she comes into contact with, because after all, what would they think of her?

Normally, this sort of spineless heroine would make an insufferable read, but McLinn does a very nice job explaining why Rebecca is the way she is. Her lack of family and her strong desire to belong, are what make her loyal to her grandmother. She is all Rebecca has, and it is this need for a family that ultimately fuels her search for her father.

Luke is a man of few words, which I admire in real life, but makes for trying reading when it comes to romance. He barely says more than one sentence at a time when with Rebecca, and what he does manage to say comes across in a barking tone. In fact, for a large part of the story he purposely goes about avoiding her. Because of this, I never really felt any sort of connection between Luke and Rebecca until almost the very end of the book. By that point I was wondering how they managed to realize that they were in love.

While not wholly engrossed in the romance, there was enough in this story that kept me easily turning the pages. The author adds a bit of mystery to Luke by giving him his own painful past. Along with Rebecca’s search for her father, and the subtle transformation that she goes through over the course of the story, this final installment in a trilogy was a nice way to spend a few relaxing evenings. Fans of the first two books will likely find themselves enjoying the finale.

--Wendy Crutcher

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