OK, I confess. I have a “thing” for those connecting series. First it
was “36 Hours.” Then it was “Fortune’s Children.” And now it’s “Heart
of the West.” And this one’s going to have twelve installments!
Harlequin must love readers like me!
For those of you who didn’t read Susan Wiggs’ excellent launch book,
Husband for Hire, this new series centers on a “bachelor auction
in the small town of Lightning Creek, Wyoming. The auction is designed
to raise funds for the Lost Spring Ranch for Boys, a last chance
destination for boys on the road to trouble. The “auctionees” are all
alumni of the Ranch, willing to do their bit for the place that helped
them make something of themselves.
Callie Thorne is at the auction mostly because the Ranch’s director is
her good friend. She’d really rather just write a check and get it over
with. Her track record with men isn’t very good and since she spends
all her time working with patients at her family’s equine therapy ranch,
she doesn’t do much socializing.
Thanks to the machinations of her friend Lindsay, Callie finds herself
the winning bidder on Mase LeBow, a rather intimidating detective with
the Denver police force. She really has no intention of going on a date
with her prize, but when she mentions that she lives on a rather
isolated ranch, Mase’s ears perk up.
Mase has a problem. Well, he has a couple of problems and they both
concern his young son Joey. Ever since his mother died in an auto
accident over a year ago, Joey has been withdrawn and depressed. He’s
clingy and scared and not at all the young boy he once was. Mase
doesn’t know what to do to bring him out of his shell.
More serious is the fact that Joey may be in danger. Mase is the key
witness in a high profile murder case in Denver and he has been warned
that if he testifies, Joey will be the murderer’s next victim. Someday
Ranch sounds like it might be just the haven Joey needs.
When Mase and Joey visit the ranch, it seems it might be just the ticket
in more ways than one. Joey responds almost immediately to the warmth
that Callie exudes and to the horses who are the key to helping people
with both physical and emotional problems. So Mase arranges for Joey to
stay at the ranch. That he also is responding to the infectious warmth
that is Callie Thorne is something he doesn’t want to examine too
Erikson has clearly done her homework about equine therapy and her
descriptions of the clients Callie and her staff are working with, their
methods and their results are heartwarming. I had heard about this kind
of therapy before and Erikson uses this both to illuminate Callie’s
character and to provide added depth to her story.
Callie is a delightful heroine. She is a dreamer whose hard work and
positive outlook make a difference in the lives of those she tries to
help. She also makes a difference in Mase’s and Joey’s lives.
Mase is a man who has seen too much evil in his career. He has shut
himself off from emotion and resists the feelings that Callie arouses in
him. He has to stand back and reevaluate what he wants from life.
The threat to Joey plays a role in their developing relationship and
adds excitement to the story. Whether it makes sense that the villain
would threaten a police officer’s kid I leave to others to determine.
I definitely enjoyed the second installment of the “Heart of the West”
series and will undoubtedly pick up the next one, even though it looks
like a “secret baby” book. You’ve got to give those folks at Harlequin
credit. They sure know how to suck us readers in.
Reviewer's Note: There are two points I would like to make that don't affect the review.
First, throughout the book, Callie is described as having golden hair,
yet the woman on the cover has dark brown hair. Who goofed here?
Secondly, I noted on the frontpiece the rather unusual statement, “Lynn
Erikson is acknowledged as the author of this work,” while the copyright
is held by Harlequin. Can anybody tell me what is going on here? Is
this a new wrinkle in the treatment of authors or is it common