Lily Gets Her Man by Charlene Sands
(Harl. Historicals #554, $4.99, PG) 0-373-29154-X
**
Lily Gets Her Man starts out strong with a sensible heroine doing what she believes is right. Sadly, the hero is more clueless than any I've seen in a while.

Lily Brody is closing down the mercantile store she ran with her father. He died leaving her nearly penniless after gambling away any profits. She is waiting for a telegram from her uncle in Chicago hoping he will invite her to join his family. She is getting worried because she hasn't heard from him.

Tyler Kincaide is a widower with a six-year-old daughter. His wife has been dead for a year and a half, but he doesn't plan to love another woman despite the efforts of some of the more determined local women. What he does need is help with his daughter who needs a woman's guidance and care. He finds plain, quiet Lily in her drab dresses the type of upstanding woman good for his daughter, but not tempting to him. When he offers her a job as housekeeper that would require her to live at his ranch, she refuses because it would ruin her reputation. To solve that problem, he ungraciously offers to marry her, but tells her not to expect any chance of a real marriage. She is highly insulted and refuses.

Tyler tries again to get Lily’s help by bringing his daughter, Bethann, into the store. Bethann invites Lily to her birthday party and Lily can't refuse. The day of the party, Tyler is shot while out on the range and Lily ends up staying to take care of him and Bethann, despite the possibility of wagging tongues. She becomes more and more involved with the father and daughter, wanting Tyler to see her as a lovable woman and forming a strong bond with Bethann.

Tyler is the problem. He slowly falls for Lily, but denies it over and over again even though everyone around the two of them can see that he is a goner. He also treats Lily in ways that are both callous and dangerous. For example, he says he wants to protect her reputation as much as possible, but while unjustly angry with her, he drags her into the town's hotel and up to a room so that he can talk privately with her. She knows that this is lethal to her good standing, but he won't listen to her. When his former brother-in-law stops by the ranch and Lily invites him to a meal, Tyler blows up. He orders Lily to stay away from Muldoon, but does not tell her the very valid reasons why. By doing so, he puts her in a very dangerous situation.

It is disappointing that Tyler is so irritating, because the rest of the story has potential. The author uses a nice mix of homey domestic scenes and exciting danger scenes. The descriptions of Lily's garden and her gardening are lovely. One glaring error did stand out. A yardage of blue satin somehow turns into blue silk by the time Lily finishes the dress.

It is truly too bad that the hero didn't measure up to the heroine. This could have been a pleasant read, but Tyler had me talking back to the book whenever he did something stupid - and that is never a good sign.

--B. Kathy Leitle


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