Duets 23


In Too Deep

Little Miss Innocent






Gabe by Lori Foster
(Harl. Tempt. #794, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN -373-25894-1
You’d think the women of Buckhorn County, Kentucky, would have erected a barricade at the Buckhorn city limits by now. The county’s most eligible bachelors are dropping like flies. And the hometown girls don’t seem to stand a chance. The Malone sisters came in and made quick work of marrying Sawyer Hudson, the town doctor, and his brother, sheriff Morgan Hudson. Their half-brothers Gabriel Kasper and Jordan Sommerville are available and definitely at-risk.

Gabe is the third installment of Lori Foster’s Buckhorn Brothers series. As the story begins, a trio of local ladies is keeping a close eye on the town’s favorite handyman and lamenting the marital tragedies that have befallen the area: “ I don’t mind tellin’ you, Rosemary, it made me nervous when the first two brothers got married off. I cried for two days, and I was so afraid they’d all end up doing it. Heck, besides dying to have one of them to myself, those brothers were the biggest tourist draw we had here in Buckhorn.”

At 27, Gabriel Kasper is the youngest of the brothers. He is a “jack-of-all-trades” who “can do just about anything with his hands.” The studly Gabe has tools and skills he’s never been afraid to use. Things and women come easily for him and he takes them all in good-natured stride.

Enter Elizabeth Parks. Elizabeth is a prickly, persistent graduate student who has desperately been looking for Gabe, albeit for not the normal reasons young women seek him out. She is completing her thesis in psychology on heroism. Her zeal is inspired by an incident from her childhood. After reading local newspaper accounts of Gabe’s rescue of a mother and her two children, she has decided that he would make a good case study for her paper.

But Gabe is a reluctant hero who knows that in Buckhorn even the changing of a traffic light is front-page news. He is nonplussed by the attention and refuses to grant her an interview. Besides, Elizabeth has irked him by showing up at the lake on a sweltering summer day trussed up from head-to-toe like a Thanksgiving turkey. The uptight Elizabeth Parks is clearly not his type, he thinks. But he’s not beyond having a little fun at her expense.

So, when the laid back Gabe discovers she’s working on the project during what should be her summer vacation, he decides to get the buttoned-up Ms. Parks to lighten up a bit. But things begin to get heavy between them when Gabe barters kisses for questions. He becomes attracted to and confounded by a woman who doesn’t seem the least bit attracted to him. He falls hard and fast. This is a new experience for him. But the readers know better. Not even Elizabeth is immune to Gabe’s lethal sexuality and aw-shucks manner.

Lori Foster has once again created a story about a perfectly matched couple. The relationship between the two develops realistically. It is wonderful to witness the transformation of reluctant Elizabeth into the confident “Lizzy.” She’s not really broken, just fractured by a childhood incident and determined to make sense of it all. And Gabe, the handyman, who can easily construct and repair anything, has a hard time trying to build a relationship with Elizabeth and helping her fix things.

The lovable characters of the first two stories make appearances. They provide love, good-natured teasing and support for the main characters. Missing from the mix are Sawyer’s son Casey and the brothers’ elusive, thrice married, hunk-producing mother. I hope to meet her in Jordan, the next installment in the series. I’d also like to see Ceily or one of the other women of Buckhorn find love since it’s apparently too late to block off the city borders.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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