I'll Remember You

To Love a Cowboy

This Perfect Stranger by Barbara Ankrum
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1103, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-27173-5
Maggie Cortland has lost her husband and is coming close to closing her husbandís ranch. The wealthiest and most ruthless man in the area wants both her and her property and isnít above making life more difficult for Maggie to get what he wants. The local banker has just refused a loan because she is single and unlikely to make a go of the ranch on her own. She canít afford help and wonít ask for charity but when a good-looking drifter rides up on his motorcycle looking for work she gradually realizes they could both do each other a favor.

Maggieís favor turns out to be more than working for room and board, however. She needs a husband, at least until the bank will loan her money and she can start to make a profit from the ranch. Cain MacCallister was willing to work for food and a place to stay. Heís startled to hear what Maggie has in mind. Sure, heís attracted - a man who has been in prison for a long time is always attracted to a female after getting released - but heís been married for real before. He isnít interested in a fake marriage of convenience. That is, he isnít until he sees Maggieís enemy bullying her. Cain wonít put up with that. They get married as soon as possible.

Cain is a complicated hero. He has killed someone - admittedly in self-defense and understandably, but he went out looking for trouble to start with. He still wonít back down from trouble although he no longer actively goes out to seek it. His previous marriage was a perfect one until Annie was killed in a robbery. After that his life went into a tailspin and he hasnít had the chance to recover. At least he hasnít until he meets Maggie.

Maggie isnít looking to be anyoneís rescuer even though Cainís sexy charms have gotten her itchy ever since she met him. She has enough problems of her own. Her previous marriage was less than perfect by the time her gambler husband committed suicide. It isnít enough that she might lose the one place sheís learned to call home. She has begun to hear rumors that her husband was helped along in his death. Maggie is attractive, not just physically, but because she doesnít whine over her fate and she works to make her life better.

These two are tough enough to face problems. Where they finally almost fall apart is when they have to face the possibility of something good coming into their lives - love and a happier future. How Cain manages to let go of his past to face the future is nicely done. This Perfect Stranger is a well-written story with an interesting hero and heroine, both of whom have been wounded (literally and figuratively) but refuse to give up. Once they learn that you shouldnít give up on love, no matter how painful the emotion can be, they reach their well-deserved HEA.

--Irene Williams

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