The Bride Fair

The Forbidden Bride

The Captive's Heart

Harrigan's Bride

The Long Way Home

The Older Woman

Medicine Man by Cheryl Reavis
(Silh. Spec. Ed. # 1815, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-373-24815-6
While this is not as good as its predecessor, The Older Woman, Reavis has written a good romance with some unique things thrown in. My guess is that having read the previous book makes reading Medicine Man more enjoyable.

In the previous story, Will Baron was a paratrooper Specialist who served in a minor role, and Arley Meeghen was the rather crazy and unpredictable sister of the heroine, Kate. Here they meet again at Kate’s wedding and they sense something in each other that is new and at the same time, almost needy.

Will is part Navajo and joined the Army to find himself and to explore his family roots in North Carolina. He is at times spiritual, always calm and borders on being dull. Arley has been impetuous most of her life, including the time she married the local rich kid, Scott McGowan. Their son Scottie is the only good thing to come of that marriage. She is trying to make her way as a single mom, and has just gotten a job working for Head Start. Arley has moved into the upstairs apartment over Mrs. Bee’s house, another character from The Older Woman.

The basic premise is that Will and Arley are attracted but must fight several factors to determine if their relationship can even be called a relationship. There is Will’s family, one of whom is his half brother. Patrick is the black sheep and almost an alcoholic to boot. There is Will’s past, in which his biological mother gave him up and then tried to kidnap him, causing him to be raised by aunts and others. There are Arley’s sisters, who have always felt they had to take care of her and are rather blatantly inferring. Finally, there is Arley’s ex who is threatening a custody battle over their son, even though he is uncaring for the most part.

What makes this fun is the journeys that each of them go through. Revisiting with Mrs. Bee and the antics that the sisters will go through for their sister brings back fond memories and warm feelings. Will’s struggle with his past is full of pain, often understated. He is not easy to read and Reavis’ style makes the reader work to see the man behind his stoicism. He is not as well rounded as many of Reavis’ heroes and some readers may find him too passive. She does rely on past stories to have told some of his reasons and this lessens the enjoyment of this story.

Arley has grown and matured. It is this growth that one can see from one story to the next that makes her likable. Again, this is not fully detailed within this tale, but for fans she becomes much more endearing as she shows her development. Her son is a joy and seeing his father depicted as the villain makes his shyness seem more realistic.

Overall, I enjoyed this story and read it in two short sittings. There are depths that could have been more detailed and it briefly dips into the scariness of deployment for the military but that really is cursory. It is rich in the Navajo traditions and gives a warm look at how families can love and be close even if not traditional in its beginnings.

For readers of the previous book, I highly recommend Medicine Man. For others, while enjoyable, it won’t be as strong for you and you might want to start with The Older Woman first.

--Shirley Lyons

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