Heart of Texas

The Moon and Stars

Ride the Wind

Tykota's Woman

Hawk’s Pursuit by Constance O’Banyon
(Leisure, $6.99, PG) ISBN 08439-5636-4
There is a story to be told here. Unfortunately, it is through a series of four books written by multiple authors about the Hawk family children who were separated when younger. This is Jena Leigh’s story. While enjoyable at times, there was a lot of confusion, contrived plot lines and speed of emotions that caused the reader to do a lot of head-scratching. Hawk’s Pursuit ultimately doesn’t add up.

Jena Leigh Hawk, widely known as J.L. Rebel, is a famous newspaper reporter at a time when it is a man’s world, just after the Civil War. Rescued from an orphanage fire by another woman reporter, Jena Leigh is raised to be independent, headstrong and fiery. She is also rich, now that her benefactress has died. She leaves her home of Altamesa Springs, Texas to go to Galveston, where she thinks her family once lived. Jena Leigh has hopes of finding her two brothers, Whit and Drew. She saw her sister Laura die in the orphanage fire. Upon her arrival in Galveston, she convinces a snarling editor to give her a job – he is the gruff sounding but ever so lovable type – and she sets out to once again prove herself. On her first day in town, she is almost attacked by a man with a scar wearing a Yankee uniform. When she reports the crime, she is offended by the officer’s way of dealing with it and stalks off.

Jena Leigh begins her job by investigating the murder of a prostitute, which she promptly connects to a previous murder of a prostitute. Now we have a serial killer, attacking the poor women of Galveston. Jena Leigh makes contact with the Yankee adjutant, only to discover that he is the man who wouldn’t believe she had been accosted the day before. Colonel Clay Madison has his hands full. He has a town of people who are mistrusting of his uniform, fueled by reporters who try to incite the people to riot and he has to keep his hands on his troops to behave. Now he has a beautiful young woman who also happens to be a troublemaking reporter throwing murder conspiracies at him.

Basically this is the story of their relationship surrounded by the hunt for the killer, Jena Leigh’s matchmaking efforts toward a young couple who face parental opposition, and a villain looking to destroy all the Hawks. The hunt for the killer involves setting up Jena Leigh as his target and Clay staying at her house at night to protect her. One can easily guess how that turns out. Jena Leigh helps a young woman elope with her boyfriend and puts her in danger too. The villain out to ruin the Hawks just happens to be a powerful man who wants to marry Jena Leigh’s friend. His tale seems to be one that runs through all the novels. While it looks like he will play a big part, he really is just there to help set up the last book and tie together stuff that was apparently introduced in the previous stories.

Jena Leigh is feisty and at times, way too advanced for the late 1800’s. Clay is a modern hero, again not really fitting into the setting. But the biggest problem I had with these two was the fact that they moved from apparent hatred to patronizing to love out of the blue. One minute they are talking and the next they are fighting their lust and love. Even their dialogue suggested they were confused and didn’t know what was happening. The reader was right there with them.

The murderer was not well defined and seemed to target Jena Leigh for no good reason except to put her in danger, make her jump into trouble as a means of showing her independence (and stupidity) and giving Clay something to get upset at her for, causing conflict in their relationship.

When I finished this book, I thought I would go with a three heart rating – the pacing is acceptable and despite all the faults, there were parts that were engaging. But the more thought I gave it and the more I had to think about what the story was really about, the more I realized that there was too much to dislike to offer an acceptable rating. Hawk’s Pursuit might fit in with the rest of the series, but it didn’t make me want to find the other books.

--Shirley Lyons

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