Hunter's Woman

Untamed Hunter

White Wolf

A Man Alone by Lindsay McKenna
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1357, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-24357-X
A Man Alone, the latest installment to the "Morgan's Mercenaries" series, has its good moments. The burgeoning relationship between the protagonists is believable and well executed and the story line flows along smoothly.

Marine Captain Thane Hamilton is on a mission to save the life of a US senator's 14-year-old daughter after she accidentally wanders into the territory of a Peruvian drug lord. Thane is shot while in the process of rescuing her, blacks out, and wakes up in a hospital room hours later only to find out that his leg might have to be amputated as a result of his efforts.

Naturally, Thane is extremely upset at the news and refuses to accept it. Worse yet, he is being sent back to his hometown to recover, which forces him to stay in the home of his estranged mother during the year-long process. Thane is delighted, however, to learn that his live-in nurse is to be none other than Paige Black, the shy, quiet, half-Navajo half-Anglo girl he had had a crush on in high school.

Paige Black can't believe that fate has made her a live-in nurse to the man she's longed for since she was a teenager. She's been half in love with Thane since high school, but she believes he never took notice of her back then. Whatever the case might have been in the past, Paige realizes that Thane is now attracted to her. Should she make the most of the situation and enjoy what time they have together, or should she shield her heart, knowing he will eventually leave her to go back to the Marines?

I had a few problems with this novel. For starters, the premise of Thane's precarious relationship with his mother calls for too much of a jump in logic. That a son could not speak to his own mother for over ten years - despising her even - simply because she divorced his father when the hero was twelve, is hard to credit. If she had beaten Thane, abandoned him, or abused him in any kind of way, I probably could have swallowed such a plot device. But a mere divorce? Thane's prolonged (and searing) hatred of his mother is a bit fantastical with nothing more to back it up. Especially since his mother worships the ground her son walks on.

Another troubling aspect of A Man Alone, concerns the continual casting of Anglos in the role of villains and Navajos in the role of saints. For instance: "That's what most Anglos do nowadays - they throw money at their parents or elders, thinking that...they'll be free and clear of them." Statements such as that one are a little too generalized for me. On the flip side of the coin, the Navajos are just as caricatured, only in a reversed light. In other words, the Navajos in this story do no wrong. Whenever you make a people perfect, you also make them no longer human.

A final negative aspect to the book is that the first 40+ pages are centered on characters that have nothing to do with this novel. As it turns out, they are protagonists from previous books, but unless you've read all the predecessors, you don't realize it until you're well into the book. For fifty or more pages, I thought the heroine was Maya, a woman to whom one of the opening chapters (15 full pages) is devoted. But no, she's merely the heroine from a previous novel. Far too much space is allotted to characters that have nothing to do with the book and plot in question.

A Man Alone, does have some aspects to recommend it. The relationship between the protagonists is sweet and touching, and McKenna does an excellent job of building up the sexual tension between them. Although I can't go so far as to recommend this novel for readers unacquainted with the "Morgan's Mercenaries" series, I do think fans that have been following the series all along will probably enjoy it.

--Tina Engler

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