Lassoed! By Martha Shields
(Silh. Rom. #1461, $3.50, G ) ISBN 0-373-19461-7
Tucker Reeves comes to after a fall from the bull he was riding at the rodeo. What he sees is a living Christmas tree ornament. Cassie Burch, photographer, has red hair, just like the angel his parents had on the Christmas tree every year. She also landed on top of him when he went sailing over the fence she was using while photographing the rodeo. A little woozy - - no, a lot woozy- - from a concussion, Tucker insists on keeping his ďCassie AngelĒ with him in the hospital. Itís a fun opening for the reader, if not for Cassie, who feels guilty, attracted and worried that sheíll be late for her flight back to New York City if she does stick around to help this nutty cowboy.

Cassoe manages to catch her plane but once in New York she canít get rid of Tucker. The advertising agency she works for likes her photos of Tucker and wants to use him in their advertising campaign. When Tucker agrees, they meet again. Neither is interested in a romance although they think a fling might be fun. After all, theyíve decided they are too different for anything more permanent.

Cassie wants to be completely independent after living through her motherís string of unfortunate marriages. Tucker hasnít been part of a real family since his parents died when he was a kid. He wants someone who needs him. Then Cassieís adolescent brother shows up to escape the latest stepfather and, since Tucker runs a ranch for troubled adolescents, all of them do lots of bonding on the ranch.

I was pleased that this Silhouette couple is ready and willing to make love if circumstances would just cooperate. They donít, of course, but that doesnít mean they arenít willing to consider the idea. You want the characters to have some fun. Tucker is a likable hero, one who is a tough cowboy on the outside but a lot more tender on the inside. Come to think of it, the knocks on his head (which makes the doctor warn him to stop rodeo riding) leave him not so tough on the outside, either. This is a cowboy who might actually be seriously injured if he keeps playing cowboy games.

Meanwhile Cassie strives to be tough and self-sufficient but she is anxious to do the right thing by her brother and unsure how to be both a sister and a mom. By the time Cassie realizes that letting Tucker closer would only help her and her brother, you can believe the characterís dilemmas and their moves toward becoming a both a couple and a family.

The plot is a little predictable, but it has some decent characters to make up for it. Tucker seems more vulnerable than the usual cowboy hero and although Cassie tends to go a little overboard on the sisterly overprotectiveness, you can overlook her flaws.

--Irene Williams

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