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Accidental Heiress

Accidental Hero by Lauren Nichols
(Sil. Int. Mom. #893, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-7893-5E
In motion pictures, the term "sequel" has all to often become synonymous with phrase "cheap, quickly thrown together knock-off of the original." Fortunately, in the field of romance, sequels are often as good or even better than the original. In Accidental Hero, which is a sequel to Accidental Heiress, the characters come alive quickly and pulsate throughout the book.

Ross Dalton is the younger brother who, in the previous book, gambled and risked losing his half of the family ranch. Briefly, in that story, Ross while living in a semi-alcoholic daze fell in with rustlers in order to get money to pay off his note. At the last minute he had a change of heart, turned state's evidence. Years later he is still trying to live it down his bad reputation in a small Montana town. Just as "prophets are without honor in their own country," such is the plight of a reformed cattle rustler and gambler.

Maggie Bristol, the only daughter of Reverend Bishop is returning to the community after being away for a decade. She has resigned her position as a deputy sheriff in Colorado to accept a job as a dispatcher in the belief that she will be first in line to fill a vacancy that soon will occur. However, she has taken this gamble on the word of the Sheriff, whose integrity she is gradually finding leaves something to be desired.

Maggie and Ross have a history she would prefer to forget -- all the more so when, after their first encounter, she finds that he doesn't even remember her. And Ross sees Maggie as someone he would like to bed, not wed.

The Dalton family has a myriad of enemies, including the sheriff, as well as Trent and Ben Cameron, the town's leading citizens. Trent, the son and heir apparent is being groomed for the legislature and after a first glance is hot on Maggie's trail.

Ross's long journey of atonement must start with himself. But as he seeks to gain Maggie's and the town's acceptance, some dark figures appear to block his path.

Maggie is once again inescapably lured to the town's bad boy and is among the first to sense the changed man. She is also burdened by the thought of her father's predicable reaction to Ross, since it was her uncle who was the victim of the cattle rustling. Ross' fiery Aunt Ruby, his loudest advocate, adds a touch of humor.

Accidental Hero is well constructed, the characters are complex, well developed and all contribute to the story. What I liked best was that the love story fit within the plot so very well and it all flowed smoothly. Small towns are notorious for their unforgiving nature, and the author captured the essence of this perfectly. The ending was arguably a bit rushed. But if you enjoyed Accidental Heiress, you will like this sequel even better.

--Thea Davis

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