Before Sunrise



Lord of the Desert

Matt Caldwell:
Texas Tycoon

Midnight Rider

Paper Rose

Once in Paris

The Winter Soldier

Iron Cowboy
by Diana Palmer
(Silh. Desire #1856, $4.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76856-7
I have generally enjoyed Palmerís Long Tall Texans, even though most of the men are mercenaries who hail from everywhere but Texas. The romance is usually engaging even if the happenings of intrigue, murder and danger are fairly common. This time, Palmer has left behind her knack for romance, causing Iron Cowboy to leave this reader cold.

Sara Dobbs is a nineteen-year-old innocent who has dealt with plenty of trauma in her life. Since her secrets are revealed late, I will leave out the details except to say that she has a slight memory loss and hints at this secret a lot. Sara is in Jacobsville, Texas running a bookstore for a friend. Her grandfather passed away about a year before and she is all alone. The townspeople look out for her though and she is working on a childrenís book she hopes to get published. She has really never dated but because of her childhood, she presents as much older than she is.

She is almost knocked over by her reaction to the new rancher in town, Jared Cameron. It is hinted that he is rich and has secrets of his own. Sara befriends him to discover that he recently lost his daughter and is mourning her by getting away. But Jared also has some unique characteristics Ė he has a bodyguard and is generally surly. He has business on the phone a lot and has a powerful woman attorney named Max who seems to claim him, warning Sara off.

Sara and Jared begin to develop a relationship but then there is danger and the inept seduction that Jared perpetrates on Sara. Conflicts abound as they try to figure out their feelings.

There are multiple things that I disliked about this tale. The most obvious is the fact that this is written as if the reader should know Jared and his past. I didnít and at times, it felt like I walked into the story in the middle. I actually had to re-read the beginning at one point to see what I had missed. I still didnít know.

The second thing is the relationship between Jared and his bodyguard Tony Danzetta. Again there is a major sense that these two have been in stories before and there is much the reader should know to understand their interactions and some of the humor. Tony is a blend of teddy bear and ogre, leaving me with a very inconsistent feeling for him.

Finally, I didnít like either of the main characters. Sara was too naÔve and immature. While she fully participated in the seduction, she was surprised when they actually made love. Then she blamed Jared for everything, taking no responsibility herself. Jared was just not a likable person. Sure he had suffered heartache and had done some nefarious stuff as a mercenary/oilman. But his transformation to loving soon-to-be husband was just too much to believe.

Diana Palmer has made the Long Tall Texans her bread and butter. Hopefully she has some jam to add if she is going to continue writing these stories.

--Shirley Lyons

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