The Major Comes to Texas
by K.N. Casper
(Harl. Super #915, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-70915-3
***
Rika Philips could write quite a report on what she did during her summer vacation. What she thinks she is doing is visiting her grandparents in a Texas small town. She has just won an award for her investigative reporting and is eager to try for her next tough assignment. But not much happens in Coyote Springs, so what she plans to do in the immediate future is just enjoy her vacation with her daughter.

But of course things do happen. Major Alex Huston has just arrived at the nearby air force base to investigate a missing drone. Its disappearance could jeopardize national security. Rika and Alex first clash when Alex rescues Emily, Rikaís daughter, from drowning at the baseís pool. He then lectures Rika for failing to watch her child properly. He meets her again when he goes to see Rikaís grandfather, a retired Air Force general, about the missing drone. When Rika overhears enough about his mission to become very interested, the two clash again.

Despite her grandmotherís matchmaking and their mutual attraction, Rika doesnít want to fall for an arrogant test pilot. She has been burned by an arrogant ex-husband and grew up as a military brat. She is sure she isnít interested in the short-term fling that would be the best she could get from Alex and his type. But he holds the key to the finding out about the investigation and she has to try to find out more.

Some of their quarrels are interesting. I liked the part where Alex lectures her on rushing into a potentially dangerous situation to help him. He reminds her that she has a child to think about and she should do that before she barges in. That sounds like a good reminder for some of the heroes and heroines of these books -- but Iíd be even more impressed if someone reminded some of the men about planning what to do before acting.

Rikaís decision to believe Alex is the stereotypical faithless pilot rings a little hollow given that her grandparents seem to have the perfect partnership. Why canít she believe this guy is as good as he looks and sounds? Of course his old girlfriendís eventual arrival - - that would be the Las Vegas showgirl who drives his Jaguar to the base - - does give some reason for Rikaís jealousy, but her emotion doesnít seem as justified at the start. Alexís attraction, combined with his annoyance over Rikaís insistence on probing his investigation, seems more realistic.

There were some very unrealistic elements in the story. Itís hard to believe security was so tight in a small town that no one really knew there was an underground testing facility at the air base and had been since World War II. The whole search for the missing drone also seems to be cleared up a little too easily. Why does it take a chance remark from a small child to resolve where the drone is and who took it? I expected better from the Major. Rikaís reconciliation with the Major also seems a little too simple. Still, with her grandmother setting them both up, what more is really needed? Her grandmother is probably the most formidable investigator and planner in the whole book.

Actually the General and his wife are probably the best parts of the story. Itís a nice portrayal of a marriage that has stayed strong for decades. You can only hope the same will hold true for Rika and Alex.

--Irene Williams


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