Chase the Wind


Whirlwind by Cindy Holby
(Leisure, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-8439-5308-X
“She deserved it. She behaved terribly. Like a spoiled child who held her breath until she got her way and wound up passing out instead.”

It helps that the heroine in Holby’s latest western romance admits it when she behaves like a ninny, but unfortunately that doesn’t make it any less annoying to read about. Couple her behavior with an acute case of series-itis and Whirlwind becomes a lackluster read.

Mary Dunleavy is a young widow living in New York City. Realizing that she’s letting life pass her by, she decides to take drastic action and accepts a teaching post out in Laramie, Wyoming. Her brother Marcus is a doctor, and anxious to practice some “real medicine” he decides to tag along with her. It’s a good thing he does, because frankly Mary clings to him so much that I began to wonder how the twit ever thought she was going to make the journey on her own.

While strolling through Central Park, Mary almost steps out in front of a carriage only to have Zane Brody pull her out of harms way. Naturally, instead of thanking the handsome, boyishly charming stranger for saving her bacon she calls him “extremely annoying.” When he tries to flirt with her, she stomps off in a huff. Really, it’s amazing that Mary can walk around freely – what with the stick lodged up her butt.

Zane works on a ranch in Laramie, and is in New York City to pick up a prize mare his boss bought. As luck, and extreme coincidence, would have it – he finds himself on the same train out of the city as Mary and Marcus. They eventually learn they’re all headed to the same destination, and in fact know many of the same people.

Naturally the journey is arduous, and it is here the author introduces outside conflict. Unfortunately the outside conflict comes about because Mary has as much sense as a bag of chicken feed. Her impetuous behavior causes her to run off, leaving Zane to chase after her time and again. Which, of course, lands them in repeated hot water. This makes the middle of the book very hard to get through, because one wonders why Zane doesn’t just strangle her. She eventually realizes that she has behaved foolishly, but it has about as much teeth as a child who is caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

This is also book six in the author’s Wind saga, so there are a lot of secondary characters. None of them play an intricate role in the plot, but there is a lot of name-dropping. All of these characters share a history, most of which will be lost on readers not already familiar with the series. Why the author felt the need to mention these people, when they play no significant role in the actual story, is a bit of a mystery – one supposes to make fans happy that they’re still alive and kicking.

The latter half of the book is well done, because despite Mary’s idiocy, the outside conflict does make for interesting reading. Also, it’s nice to watch Zane go from a Peter Pan-type who refuses to grow up, to a man who survives adversity over the course of the story. Unfortunately he fails to realize that all that adversity could have been avoided if the heroine wasn’t such a dingbat.

--Wendy Crutcher

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