Ride The Wind by Constance O'Banyon
(Leisure, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8439-4777-2
In terms of keeping my attention and staying fast paced, Ride The Wind is a good read. Detracting from the book's overall score, however, is a tendency on the author's part to bestow upon the characters qualities and actions that don't jive with reality.

Saber Vincente is set to marry Civil War hero Matthew Halloway in three weeks time. Although she isn't certain she's in love with him, the young major saved her life once during the war and she swears she will never betray him because of it. When Saber is kidnapped, however, she is rescued by Matthew's good friend Reese Starrett. After meeting the legendary tracker, she knows for certain that whatever she had felt for young Matthew was nothing compared to the feelings she now harbors for Reese. But how can she betray Matthew?

Reese's parents separated when he was quite young after his mother ran off with his father's best friend. Reese has not only sworn off marriage because of this fact, but won't let his feelings for Saber come out into the light because he won't betray Matthew's friendship the way his father's best friend betrayed theirs.

Angering Reese, however, is the fact that when all is said and done, Matthew (who asked Reese to find Saber's whereabouts and do away with the kidnappers) might dump Saber anyway if her virginity was compromised while in the kidnappers' care. Matthew plans to run for political office and won't chance his name being sullied by gossip concerning what might have happened to Saber while she was being held hostage.

Reese is in love with Saber but won't admit it. Saber is in love with Reese but won't admit it. Can the duo come together anyway and marry against all odds?

Ride The Wind is a compelling read at times as the author does a commendable job at snagging your attention and keeping it. The storyline is fast paced, the protagonists are likable, and the sexual tension is hot. There are some major problems with the overall telling of the story, however, that detract from your ability to become totally engrossed in the novel.

The actions of the characters, for instance, are sometimes at complete odds with how the majority of normal people in the same exact situation would react. As an example, let's examine a scene towards the beginning of the book during which the heroine makes bacon and biscuits for a meal right after the hero saves her from the kidnappers and the duo are on the run together in the middle of the wilderness.

By the time this meal-making scene transpires the heroine is extremely hungry so you know intrinsically that her stomach has got to be rumbling in a major way. So how much of the proffered food does she eat? Half the meat and half the bread?

Nope. She eats one thin slice of bacon and one biscuit. (Huh?) Such an action was probably penned to make Saber come across as delicate and dainty, but it makes her look dumb instead. I don't know about you, but if that heroine had been me and I was half starving to death, Reese would have had to wrestle me to the ground and hog tie me to get me to give up more than half of that food.

Reese is another character whose actions aren't always simpatico with reality. In a scene where he is being introspective and considering all that poor Saber has lived through, for instance, he wonders to himself in one paragraph if she was raped by her kidnappers and then a paragraph later is sustaining an erection for her.

Yeeck! One would certainly hope that contemplating the possibility of whether or not the woman you have feelings for was raped would be enough to keep one's penis in a neutral position. But Reese's penis was not neutral and this reader didn't react well to it. Call it bad timing on the author's part, but an erection after contemplating rape is insulting and in poor taste.

Speaking of rape, just about every male secondary character in this book either plans to or attempts to force himself on the heroine. One of the thugs that kidnapped her, the man that hired the kidnappers, even Matthew...all of them are potential wannabe rapists. I suppose the author was trying to get across how desirable Saber is, but getting it across via threatened rape simply doesn't sit well.

So after all of those complaints, why did I give Ride The Wind three hearts? Because as I said before, Constance O'Banyon does a solid job of keeping your attention and creating likable protagonists despite all of the negative points I brought up. Certain aspects of the book could have been and should have been handled better, and if they had been penned more appropriately then this novel would have been a solid four heart read.

--Tina Engler

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