The Wedding Rescue

A Fabulous Wife
by Dianne Castell
(Harl. Amer. #1077, $4.99, G) ISBN 0373-75081-1
This is the first of the “Forty and Fabulous” series based in Whistler’s Bend, Montana. The heroines and heroes are a little older and meant to be a little wiser. This first installment highlights two people who were young and in love once, but realized their life together didn’t work. Now they have a second chance.

Jack Dawson is a Chicago cop who has seen it all. He has been injured on the job more times than he can count and even had to defuse a bomb when the bomb squad couldn’t get there in time. Like many policemen, his home life suffered due to the stress and danger on the job. He and his lovely wife parted amicably ten years ago because Jack couldn’t change what he did and Maggie couldn’t live with it anymore.

Maggie Moran loved Jack. She loved having his son, Ben, who is about to graduate from high school. But she hated constantly worrying about Jack’s safety and she really didn’t like Chicago. She came back to Whistler’s Bend to raise her son and help her father, Henry run his ranch. But that too had been struggling and Maggie has had to help out more than she bargained when Henry became ill. Now she is neck deep in trying to raise beefalo, a hybrid of beef cattle and buffalo. Just as the graduation draws near, her prize buffalo bull, Andy, comes up missing. Now Jack and his parents come into town two weeks early and to top it off, she is still attracted to Jack.

Jack really never stopped being attracted to Maggie. Due to his job, he didn’t see as much of his son as he would have liked, but he did provide support. Ben is a good kid, but barely passing his classes, despite his goal to go to college for business. Maggie is also worried that he has gotten mixed up with a girl with a bad reputation who also quit school.

Throw into the mix a variety of characters from Whistler’s Bend – BJ and Dixie, who are Maggie’s best friends; Roy, the local deputy who is struggling because the sheriff is recuperating from heart surgery and he is by himself; and Angel, the girl Ben is seeing and you have a homey view of life in Montana. Complications arise as the sexual tension and strong attraction between Maggie and Jack rises to the fore, the bull is now assumed kidnapped, and there are attempts to steal other cattle and Jack’s protective instincts come out rising Maggie’s hackles.

Maggie is a good heroine, who thrives to be independent but also cares way too much for her ex-husband. Jack wallows in guilt, but he too is honorable and deeply attracted. The secondary characters are fun and add to the mix. But ultimately, the tale is predictable while being enjoyable. There are times it bogs down a little in that predictability but there is enough action going on to keep things interesting.

The premise of the older couples is promising and the maturity of Maggie and Jack shines through. While they struggle with their feelings, they are grounded in reality. This helps to keep the sometimes crazy events from becoming comical or silly. BJ and Dixie are a bit on the silly side, but they serve as a reminder to Maggie to take things a little less seriously, something she definitely needs to keep her from being too solemn.

A Fabulous Wife is a generally entertaining tale worth the reading time, with hints of two more to follow that will resonate with those of us looking on the other side of age 40.

--Shirley Lyons

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