Straddling the Line
by Sarah M. Anderson
(Harl Desire #2232, $5.25, PG) ISBN 978-0373-73245-6
****
The Bolton Brothers is a bit of a knock-off of the TV show about the family who builds motorcycles. But in this family, we have the gruff father, the movie star type big brother, Bobby; the builder and customizer, Billy and the middle brother whose mother asked him to help keep the family together as she was dying. Ben is a college grad who is a financial genius and his investment strategy has helped he and his brothers reach almost millionaire status. But dear old Dad doesn't appreciate Ben's talents and fights him every step of the way, despite making him the company CFO. So Ben manages his own money and keeps the company in the black, even though with the right investments, the job would be so much easier. Because of this lack from his dad, Ben has also invested in a hobby - being a drummer for a local band.

Josey White Plume is a girl trying to straddle her own two worlds. Her grandfather was a white man who married a lovely Lakota Indian maid and their life was wonderful moving between New York society and the Lakota tribal lands in South Dakota. But their daughter, Josey's mom Sandra did not find the transition so easy and despite her "half-breed status" came back and married a man imbedded in the tribe. Now Josey, who was raised in both New York and at the Rez is back to being an outcast. After a failed relationship with a white man who made her being an "Indian" an issue, she is determined to find her place.

She is helping to establish a school on the reservation, the first Charter school of its kind. And she needs donations from local businesses to make it work. She decides to get shop equipment from the Crazy Horse Choppers and Ben Bolton is the man who is forced to meet with her when his brother Bobby blew her off.

Their attraction is strong and amazing from the beginning. They are not what either expected and both impact the other. And things just get more intense after Ben says no but they meet up at a bar where Ben's band is playing. They don't have a one night stand, but it is close. When Ben pursues her onto the reservation and decides to donate after all, the two have to figure out their relationships - both the business one and the personal one.

These two have chemistry and the attraction is engaging from the beginning. Both are intelligent and despite the high lust factor, they act like sensible adults and work things out rather than just thinking with their anatomy. Ben is a nice guy underneath his gruff exterior and is determined to be the type of man he thinks Josey will respect. Josey is leery due to her past, but Ben just overwhelms her and she finds she likes it when he is respectful to her below the surface.

The story is fairly predictable with the racial tension but much of it is in Josey's head, not in the minds of the other members of her tribe. They learn to respect Ben and see him for the man he is, not the "white man" he is. I liked that the author didn't beat this theme into oblivion before her character could see the difference.

There are more Bolton brothers' stories coming and Anderson has a writing style that was enjoyable. I will keep my eyes out for Billy and Bobby's story to see if they are as entertaining as Straddling the Line.

--Shirley Lyons


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