A Pocketful of Paradise

Still Close to Heaven

Simply Magic

This Time for Keeps

Wish Upon a Cowboy

Just West of Heaven
by Kathleen Kane
(St. Martin’s, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-312-97766-2
I read every kind of romance, but I have to admit that paranormals and westerns are not my first choices when picking up a book. Hence, I’m very glad that I was assigned Kathleen Kane’s August release. Otherwise I might have missed a simply delightfully entertaining story.

Sophie Dolan comes from a family of women who are “blessed” with the sight. This has always set her apart from her neighbors in Albany, New York. But being able to see the future can have its benefits. She can see exactly what Charles Vinson has planned for her little sister Jenna. At four, Jenna exhibits a talent for prognostication much greater than Sophie’s. Vinson had recognized this ability and convinced their dying mother to make him Jenna’s guardian. Vinson plans to use Jenna to make his fortune.

Sophie knows that Jenna will be miserable in Vinson’s hands so she flees Albany and heads for Tanglewood, Nevada where she has been promised a teaching job. The first person she runs into - literally - when she gets off the train is Ridge Hawkins, the local sheriff. Their initial meeting is not a happy one.

Ridge had spent his youth on the wrong side of the law, but four years earlier he had shed his outlaw ways and become a lawman. He had cleaned up the town and gained a reputation as a determined upholder of the law. To him, things are black and white; there are no shades of gray.

Sophie hits Tanglewood like a tornado. She shames the townspeople for their neglect of the school and soon has everybody working like crazy to rebuild the decrepit structure. Still, everybody admires her gumption, but none more than Ridge. He finds himself immensely attracted to this feisty redhead who is turning the town and his life upside down. Sophie is likewise intrigued by the handsome sheriff.

Ridge is somewhat befuddled when little Jenna insists on calling him “Daddy” at every opportunity. Jenna insists that she “sees” that he is her daddy. Since Sophie is masquerading as her “mommy,” this causes the sheriff some discomfort. But the more he gets to know both Sophie and Jenna, the more his heretofore solitary life seems unsatisfactory. But what if his growing love for this unusual woman comes into conflict with his determination to uphold the law?

I really enjoyed the interaction between Sophie and Ridge. There are two strong-willed people and neither will give an inch. Their attraction is grows naturally from their confrontations. It takes a talented author to show two people sparring their way into love and Kane does it very well. Theirs is a charming romance.

Equally charming is little Jenna, a sprite who doesn’t understand that she has to mask her unusual abilities. Likewise, the town folks who must deal both with Sophie’s determination and Jenna’s gift are delightfully brought to life.

Just West of Heaven is a feel good romance. It is light and humorous, just the thing to raise your spirits. It is pure fantasy and very well done. I’m glad I read it. It was just what I needed this first week of a new semester.

--Jean Mason

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