The Last Good Man

 The Last True Cowboy

 A Mother's Gift

 Night Falls Like Silk

 The Night Remembers

 Once Upon a Wedding

Ride a Painted Pony

Something Worth Keeping

Sunrise Song

 A View of the River

 What the Heart Knows

 You Never Can Tell

Cool Hand Hank
by Kathleen Eagle
(Silh. Spec. Ed #2024, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0373-65506-9
Kathleen Eagle is well known for her full-length novels, is no stranger to category romances, and has many fans. I have liked books from her in the past. This one disappointed me as I was expecting more than what was received in Cool Hand Hank.

Sally Drexler and her sister Annie have been running the Double D ranch for a few years.  They have established a sanctuary for wild horses, including some Mustangs.  Their goal is to increase their land through the use of some Indian land and some rights from the government.  They have an opponent in their neighbor Dan Tutan, who will lie and seemingly do anything to keep the girls from expanding their operation.  Annie is getting married to an ex-rodeo cowboy, Zach Beaudry, and he plans to help.  But if he and Annie want a honeymoon, he has to convince his best friend to help out Sally while he is gone.

Hank Night Horse is a part-time farrier / part time physician’s assistant.  He travels with the rodeos and patches up cowboys who need it before they get to see a doctor.  He loves horses and shoeing them keeps him involved with the animals.  He and his dog Phoebe are a team, and have been ever since his son died and his wife left.

Sally and Hank hit it off and with promises of a summer fling and some fun on a ranch, Hank agrees to help out.  What he doesn’t count on is some of the trouble that comes their way, or his genuine attraction to Sally.  Sally seems to have two personalities.  At times, she is quiet and subdued, a real bookworm.  But at times, she is “Mustang Sally” – sassy, bold and ready to take on the world.  He just can’t figure her out.  There is an undercurrent he senses but can’t quite put his finger on…and that intrigues him, too.

Actually, Sally often feels like two people.  Her real personality is more like her outgoing persona.  But over the years she has learned how to protect herself.  Sally has multiple sclerosis – and right now it is in semi-remission.  Her hope is that it stays there so she and Hank can enjoy a racy affair and he will leave without ever knowing about her problems.  But nature and the stress from Tutan’s interference makes that harder all the time.

There were moments in this story that were engaging and fun to read.  Hank is a good hero and yet a little sullen and mysterious.  Sally is feisty and when she is feeling good, she is brassy and sexy and ready to take on the world.  Some of the situations seemed to be a bit farfetched.  Hank’s astuteness deserts him when it shouldn’t.  Some of the issues around the horses and the land were not well explained and there seemed to be something missing in the reasons for some of the problems.

Overall, this is an interesting story and one that was enjoyable.  I never felt the urge to pick it up and not put it down, though.  The best way to describe the story is to say it was like warm water…never getting too hot but not really cold and refreshing either.  Hank and Sally’s romance never heated up and yet their strong feelings were evident.  There were scenes where I just knew the whole thing with Dan Tutan was going to blow up…but it just simmered and finally faded away.

Cool Hand Hank was a lukewarm story.  From Kathleen Eagle I had hoped for more.

--Shirley Lyons

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