Hired Bride

Letter to a Lonesome Cowboy

A Montana Man

The Secret Daughter

A Willing Wife

The Coyote’s Cry by Jackie Merritt
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1484, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-24484-3
Jenna Elliot loves Bram Colton. Bran Colton loves Jenna Elliot. But Bram insists they can never be anything but acquaintances. And why is this? He’s married? She’s married? They’re secretly brother and sister? Almost anything would work better than the forced, silly conflict used in The Coyote’s Cry.

Bram Colton, sheriff of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, has been attracted to golden-haired nurse Jenna Elliot for years. She’s the daughter of one of the town’s richest men, but she’s honest, sweet, and hardworking. A real prize, right? So what does our hero do every time he sees Jenna? He’s cold, rude, arrogant, and obnoxious to her. And his reasoning is…? Jenna’s father hates all Indians, and Bram is Comanche. Therefore he can never have anything to do with Jenna, even though she seems sincerely interested in him.

Jenna goes weak in the knees every time hunky Bram Colton is around, but he won’t give her the time of day. When Bram’s grandmother suffers a stroke and needs full-time nursing care, Jenna volunteers because she knows it will place her in Bram’s house twenty-four hours a day. Surely he can’t ignore her then!

Bram has other things on his mind, too. An arsonist has attempted to burn down the courthouse and all its documents, but why? And then a man turns up dead out next to the train depot. Plus his great-grandfather, George White Bear, is seeing visions of death and talking about a “golden fox”, which he believes is Jenna. And a new man appears in town, claiming he might be a shirttail relation to the Coltons. What’s a man to do?

Well, if he’s Bram, he snarls, huffs, stomps, and generally acts like a jackass to the one person he longs to impress - Jenna. Bram’s “conflict” felt flat-out ridiculous. Her father is a bigot, so the daughter is hands-off, even though said daughter is yelling “take me, take me”? Not that Jenna is any great prize in the maturity department. She’s thirty years old and still living with her daddy, even though she deplores his attitudes. When Bram refuses to respond to her, she bickers and chastises him into argument after argument, at one point even yelling “I hate you!” out the back door of his house.

Oh, go away, both of you.

What keeps this book from a one-heart rating is the secondary characters, particularly George White Bear, who doesn’t hesitate to tell his thickheaded great-grandson that his behavior is out of line. That was fun. The rest of the Coltons pop in and out, and the next installment, Willow, hints at an unhappy episode (I’m betting she’s pregnant).

But secondary characters can’t carry the book, and to add insult to injury, the contrived conflict has an equally contrived plot. How likely is it that a hospital staff nurse can drop everything and go do private-duty nursing for a discharged patient? If Jenna’s a nurse, how come these two never use any form of protection? And Bram’s style of fast, wham-bam-I’m-outta-here-ma’am sex left me absolutely cold. All of this combined sinks The Coyote’s Cry to the level of Not Recommended. Sorry, Coltons, you’ll have to carry on the rest of the series minus one reader.

--Cathy Sova

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