After I Dream

Before I Sleep

Cowboy Comes Home

The Crimson Code

Holiday Heroes

Involuntary Daddy

A January Chill

Mistletoe Kisses

Snow in September

Under Suspicion

When I Wake

With Malice

A Soldier’s Homecoming
by Rachel Lee
(SRS #1519, $4.99 PG) ISBN 0-373-27589-2
Rachel Lee returns to Conard County, Wyoming, after an absence of nearly ten years. The reader learns that Sheriff Nate Tate has now retired and, always to be known as The "New Sheriff," Gage Dalton has the county under his experienced and watchful eye with the able assistance of the deputies who had served under Tate.

Deputy Connie Halloran was apparently one of Tate's last hires. Related to Sheriff Tate she turned to him for a job when she decided to leave Denver where she was a police officer. The victim of a battering spouse, Connie left after a serious beating threatened the life of their unborn child. Her testimony resulted in a jail sentence for her spouse.

While on patrol Connie spots a hitchhiker headed toward town. Since it is against the law she stops him and observing that he appears to be a returning veteran with the rank of Major she gives him a lift. Later he visits the office looking for Micah Parish, claiming that he is his son Ethan. Since he resembles Micah in so many ways, it is credible to Gage, so Gage takes him out to the Parish ranch for a first meeting.

Meanwhile Connie's seven year old daughter is accosted by a stranger while walking home from school with a friend. The sheriff’s office puts all available personnel to the task of finding that stranger. Gradually the reader learns of Connie's ex-husband's release and the protective measures begin to make more sense. Gage hires the hitchhiker, Ethan Parish, and asks him to move in with Connie, Sophie and her disabled mother who resides with them

A Soldier’s Homecoming is so formulaic and predictable that it is tedious reading in places. Not to denigrate the baggage one carries from living in an abused marriage, but it is a familiar theme and this book does nothing to further enlighten the reader. It does however introduce a fairly new theme, and that is of the soldier returning from tours in Afghanistan.

Ethan Parish had been medically discharged so his struggle for readjustment is carried out with the acute back pain that resulted in the discharge. This pain and his constant awareness of the incredible dichotomy of the standard of living between the Afghans and the US citizens, and the seeming futility of the US action there serve as the basic causes of Ethan's troubled mind.

The instant attraction between the two at least creates the forum for their discussions on their mutual angsts. The ending is quite expected although reached by an unexpected twist. Sadly, A Soldier's Homecoming does not have the depth of plot or character development that so richly enhanced many of the former ten novels of Conard County.

--Thea Davis

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