A Bride Worth Waiting For

First Time, Forever by Cara Colter
(Silh. Romance #1464, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-19464-1
The story line is nothing new: a big, handsome cowboy meets a virgin who is ripe for a man's touch, he takes her to his ranch and marries her, and they live happily ever after. What this category romance has going for it that a lot of reads featuring similar "cowboys and virgins" plots don't, is that Cara Colter has managed to rehash the old story line in a very entertaining way.

Thirty-four-year-old Kathleen Miles has been raising her twelve-year-old orphaned nephew Mac alone since her sister died five years ago. When Kathleen's ex-fiancÚ announces his engagement to a young woman in her early twenties, she decides to begin anew by leaving Vancouver to move to Hopkins Gulch, a small ranching community in Saskatchewan, Canada. Kathleen has never dated much and her only relationship had been with her ex-fiancÚ, but when she sets eyes on Evan Atkins, the rancher who is eight years her junior does things to her heart that she hadn't thought an aging spinster could still feel...

Twenty-six-year-old Evan Atkins is raising his three-year-old son Jesse alone. After the horrific marriage he endured with Jesse's now deceased mother, the last thing on Evan's mind is falling in love again. But when he sees Kathleen Miles for the first time, he can't think of ever having seen a prettier face. And when he gets to know her as a friend through an act of the fates, he realizes he's definitely never met anyone with a bigger heart...

With only a constrictive 185 pages to work with, Cara Colter manages to pen characters with more life and realness to them than some authors can do working with double the amount of space. Kathleen comes across as a true heroine...strong, independent, and intelligent. Furthermore, she also has believable reasons for having retained her virginity for so long, whereas quite a few contemporary books featuring older virgins don't quite make the sale in the reality department. Evan's character is put together just as nicely. There is nothing murky or half-baked about him. You understand who he is as a person and respect him for it.

Aside from Colter's excellent character development, the author also has a wonderful way with words. She truly knows how to set up a scene, twist it to its best advantage, then deliver a line that will bring a sappy tear of joy to your eyes. I found myself re-reading lines just because I enjoyed the sound of them so much.

You might not find anything new in the plot of First Time, Forever, but the reading of it is an uplifting, invigorating way to spend a few hours.

--Tina Engler

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