Hard Candy

Lone Star Heat

One Summer Evening

Southern Fires

Heart of Texas by Mary Lynn Baxter
(Silh. Desire 1249, $3.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76249-6
Clark Garrison is on a mission. He has been sent by his boss to purchase Quiet Haven nursing home in his hometown of River Oaks, Texas. The only obstacle is Sara Ann Wilson, chiropractor and part owner of Quiet Haven. Five years her junior, Clark knew Sara from the days when he was a high school football player and the town’s resident bad boy. Sara and her mother were not pleased that back in those days Clark was dating Sara’s younger sister, Alice. So, to persuade Sara to sell, he has try and convince her he’s a changed man.

Sara is 39, single, and a workaholic. She loves her practice, and her work at the nursing home. She gave up a lucrative practice in Dallas to return to River Oaks and take care of her mother. She’s happy and fulfilled with her job, but her personal life is none existent.

Clark and Sara meet up at her house after he throws out his back. Sexual tension is crackling in the air, and Clark (of course) does not reveal the real reason he’s returned to River Oaks. This makes up the story’s central conflict, although Sara’s insecurities also play a major role.

Heart of Texas has some interesting ideas, the story is too formulaic to make a real impact. The older woman -- younger man (even if it is only 5 years) was a nice change of pace. What I found disagreeable was Sara’s lack of experience with personal relationships. She’s 39 and a doctor. I find it unlikely that someone with her life experiences (college, living in Dallas) would be that naïve. Instead, Clark calls the shots through most of book, and Sara just coasts along having doubts.

The sexual tension between Clark and Sara is also well done. Baxter doesn’t mince words, and it’s apparent from the second chapter these two have it bad for each other. The progression of their attraction moves along nicely, and I never came across a chapter that was “dead weight.”

However, there are no new ideas here, and anyone who’s read at least five romances will know exactly where the story is going before they even get there. Some good ideas, wasted in predictability.

--Wendy Crutcher

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