Stranger in a Small Town

The Pilot's Woman
by Ann Roth
(Harl. American #1204, $4.99, PG)  ISBN 0-373-75208-3
The Pilot's Woman is an entertaining but fairly traditional category romance featuring two people who know what they want and yet can't see beyond their faces to find the answers to their quandaries. Together they figure it out.

Liza Miller was left at the altar many years ago on the small island of Halo, across the sound from Seattle. The seaplane pilot who took her to the mainland in a very emotional state was D.J. Hatcher, owner of Island Air. He feels bad for her, as he went through a bad period too, when his then-wife ran off with his best friend partner, leaving him in debt and devastated by their betrayal.

It is now several years later and Liza is returning to help her grandmother pack up her house to move into a retirement condo. Liza is a schoolteacher but hasn't landed a permanent contract yet, surviving on partial year contracts or substitute teaching. She is at loose ends, since her contract in Bellingham just ended and Gram is putting the pressure on her to move back to the island.

D.J., meanwhile, hardened his heart and worked himself out of debt, only to find that there is a balloon payment due soon. Because he has a sketchy credit history and he has basically not been able to put anything away, he is in danger of losing his company and essentially, his life.

When Liza flies back on D.J.'s plane, they remember each other and find themselves attracted. But D.J. doesn’t do long-term relationships and Liza, while only here temporarily, doesn't do short-term. She is holding out for the happy ever after with kids. She just doesn't know where to look until she feels she has a job and home she can count on. Another complication is that Liza doesn't get along with her overly critical mother, which makes settling on the island, well, unsettling.

While I enjoyed their banter and their lovemaking foreplay got hot, there isn't much too this that the reader can't see coming a mile away. I had figured out a solution for DJ long before the author let on that she had. And Liza is unsettled, thus not the most engaging heroine I have read. There is the predictable incongruity in their lives and of course, just as Liza thinks she has some things settled, D.J. is going in the other direction. Then D.J. figures it out and Liza has choices to make.

That said, the two are sweet together and their push-pull games are fun to watch, especially as Gram gets her head around their one point she tells them both to grow up and talk. How refreshing is that?

The Pilot's Woman is acceptable…not much more but nothing less either.

--Shirley Lyons

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