Lone Star Woman
by Sadie Callahan
(Penguin, $6.99, PG-13)† ISBN 978-0451-22577-1
***
Sadie Callahan is a pseudonym for Anna Jeffrey, who has a good reputation for writing contemporary Westerns.† Lone Star Woman is an interesting story but didnít fully meet all my expectations.

Jude Strayhorn is the daughter of the Circle C ranch, one of the biggest spreads in Central Texas.† JD, her father and Jeff, her grandfather run the ranch, giving Jude a small portion as her own.† Her dream is to eventually take over the ranch but the two men seem to underestimate her intelligence. Jude has a degree and has some innovative ideas to help the ranch survive into the next century, but her father and grandfather have paraded a couple of men in front of her. Luckily for her, she realized neither man wanted herÖhe wanted what she had or represented.† So Jude decides she needs to prove herself. ,P. When a neighboring owner passes away, Jude plans to use her trust fund to purchase the land and start her own herd, enabling her to use some of her breeding ideas and prove to her patriarchs that she does know what she was talking about.† But Brady Fallon is in her way.† Brady inherited the 6-0 Ranch from his aunt.† And the timing for him was perfect.† He had been through a difficult divorce and child custody fight, losing all he had owned.† His contractorís business went under and he was at the point of trying to figure out what would happen next.† Now he owns a rather run-down place that needs more capital than he has, but one he is determined to do something with.† He hires on at the Circle C just to have some money coming in.

Brady and Jude meet before either knows who the other is and the attraction is instant and mutual.† Jude offers to help with the 6-0, thinking she will get to see what this new owner is made of, and with thoughts of possibly leasing the land from him.† Brady accepts her help, only because he is intrigued and finds he canít say no.† They end up spending a weekend together and neither can get the other from their heads or their hearts.

Complications arise as they fight their attraction, Brady is offered the General Managerís position at the Circle C (a position that Jude always assumed would be hers one day) and Judeís family isnít sure what they think about a relationship between the two.

Jude is a head-strong woman, but relatively naÔve when it comes to sex and men.†She is not sure of her feelings and plays hot and cold with Brady.†Her father and grandfather are often patronizing and it is difficult to watch their treatment of her in the name of love.†Jude often turns to Brady, but then seems to distrust him at every step of the way.†There is a side bar about her trying to buy the 6-0 anonymously that plays a big role in their relationship yet her motivation is murky and hard to understand.

Brady meanwhile is the ultimate cowboy and for me, this made him a little hard to buy all the time.†He is caring and gentle, yet he was a successful businessman.†He was a little too laid back and often resorts to comparing Jude to his ex-wife (who also came from money and had a ruthless father), leaving the reader to wonder if he was just too jaded to accept love again.†Yet his very behavior with Jude was endearing and made him a good hero.

The story dragged at times and I found it hard to pick up but once engaged, it kept me turning the pages. The sex was hot and borders on the R rating. However, the ending felt rushed and was a little disappointing.†Overall, Lone Star Woman was a good story but not one of the best I have read this year.†

--Shirley Lyons


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