Angels on Zebras

Bringing Up Baxter

Warrior's Embrace by Peggy Webb
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1323, $4.59, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-24323-5
Steve Thunderhorse was an award winning photojournalist until a family tragedy led him into alcoholism. With the help of a friend he went into rehab and now, nine years later, he raises horses and presents Western shows to groups emphasizing the history of Native Americans.

Angel Mercer is a novelist who has become a household name and face with the success of her latest book. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with her father and now has to worry about people showing up on her doorstep wanting to talk with her. Her agent and her father encourage her to take some time off before starting her next book. She decides to buy a used RV and head West for a vacation.

In Arizona, she sees a sign announcing a WILD WEST SHOW starring THUNDERHORSE. Wanting to enjoy the western experience, she attends the show. She is immediately mesmerized by Steve Thunderhorse as he performs. At the campground where she decides to stay, they discover that their RV's are parked next to each other. He tries to take her to dinner, but a pair of pushy fans at the restaurant upset her so much that he picks her up and carries her out to protect her.

Steve invites her to his ranch where they spend a number of wonderful days until the tabloid news discovers their relationship and brings out a sensationalized version of Steve's tragedy. Having this information splashed around again sends him into retreat, so Angel sadly returns to Mississippi.

Angel is depicted as a sensitive soul who has never been able to stand up to people and who seems to need a keeper. She does grow in the story and faces up to some painful incidents in her past. Because she has always run from her problems, she does understand Steve's reaction, even though it hurts her.

It seemed a little incredible that Steve is so surprised by the tabloid news. He had been a journalist and since he knew that Angel was easily recognized, he should have realized that the old stories of his life would appear when his name became linked with hers.

The resolution to Steve and Angel's disagreement seemed out of character for each of them. Since both of them wanted to avoid all the publicity, it was odd that she uses a television show to speak to him and he puts on a public display in front of her house. Picking up the telephone and calling each other would have made more sense.

A secondary romance between Angel's assistant and her father is a nice touch. Steve's friend, Gray Wolf, is also an important part of the story, (He is the subject of Ms. Webb's next book.) The descriptions of Arizona and Mississippi gave a great sense of place to the book. The heat and humidity of Mississippi is accurately detailed.

Warrior's Embrace just has too many separations toward the end that makes it feel like the author was trying to stretch the book out longer that it needed to be.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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