Calder Pride

Lone Calder Star
by Janet Dailey
(Zebra, $7.99, PG) ISBN 08217-7542-1
Lone Calder Star is pure Janet Dailey. It is a Calder novel through and through – hunky hero, and smart, down to earth heroine, Calder backbone and a menace that unites.

Quint Echohawk is the grandson of Chase Calder. He was raised in Montana, has been to school, did a stint in the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms unit and is back ready to take over the ranching duties. But his aunt Jessy has need of him in Texas. The Cee Bar, the original Texas homestead of the Calder ancestor, seems to be in trouble and Quint has some expertise that may help solve the problem. He came to Texas trying to find out why the last ranch hand left and the small spread (in comparison to the one in Montana) was left abandoned. Jessy is sure that old nemesis Max Rutledge and his son Boone (who was a spurned suitor of her daughter’s) are behind the trouble. Max has been trying to buy the Cee Bar and Jessy has been refusing the offer.

He finds MT (Empty) Garner and his granddaughter, Dallas. They have been run off their land by the Rutledge’s, although no one can prove it. Little things kept happening, like sugar in the gas tank of their only pick-up, rustled cattle and finally financial ruin. Dallas is working two jobs and going to college at night, trying to enable them to leave town. Meanwhile, Empty is committed to staying, even though now they are living in a run-down trailer. Empty meets Quint and offers him help. Quint meets Dallas and finds himself attracted. She isn’t immune to his charms but is concerned about getting in too deep.

When Boone threatens to hurt Empty, Dallas makes a deal to provide information about Quint’s plans. She and Empty move onto the Cee Bar, providing her access to that information. When some of that information results in a fire, Dallas realizes how much she cares for Quint and sets out to get out of her bargain. Now she just has to get up the nerve to tell Quint. Needless to say, more threats abound, Quint and Dallas fall for each other and Dallas fears what will happen when he finds out what she has done. The Rutledges, meanwhile, keep planning more interesting things for the Cee Bar ranch.

Quint is a great hero. He is all man, yet he was raised by a family that was not afraid to show they care. He finds himself falling for Dallas and senses she feels the same for him. He is bound and determined to get the Cee Bar through this crisis and Max Rutledge doesn’t scare him a bit. He has seen tougher foes in the ATF. He is a nice romantic lead and he and Dallas are well matched. Their passion is understated but their relationship moves along and love comes easily to them.

Dallas has spunk. The only issue is that she waits way to long to tell Quint her secret, setting up the big misunderstanding. Luckily, Dailey is too smart an author to let that be her main hitch. Some of the action is predictable but it is engaging and fun to read, just the same. The villains are dastardly, just like you would expect in a western, even one set in the modern era.

Empty is a good secondary character and the Calders are re-introduced only as pertinent to the story. If you have never read one of the books, this tale will still play true for you. If you are a fan of the series, it fits right in and is a good fast paced reading experience. Lone Calder Star is a well written contemporary cowboy story worth the price of admission.

--Shirley Lyons

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