Lily Gets Her Man

 
The Law and Kate Malone
by Charlene Sands
(Harl. Hist., $5.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-29246-5
***
If you enjoy a head strong heroine pitted against a headstrong hero, with friendship as the foundation of their love, then I suggest you take a look at Charlene Sandsí The Law and Kate Malone.

Kate Malone and Cole Bradshaw grew up together in Crystal Creek, California in the 1860ís. They were inseparable buddies, despite the fact that Cole was an orphan being raised by his brother and Kate was the daughter of the saloon owner. Their friendship started to deepen into adolescent love when Kate and her mother were forced to leave town when the saloon burned down and the rich banker refused her a loan.

Kate never forgot Cole, and her dreams of running the Silver Saddle saloon one day. Cole never forgot Kate and worked to build his dream of being Sheriff of Crystal Creek. Now, both in their late twenties, they realize they never forgot when Kate returns to Crystal Creek with plans to reopen the saloon.

Only problem is, the town has an ordinance against saloons. Kate enlists the help of a lawyer friend to fight the ordinance and finally perseveres. Cole canít abide Kate owning the saloon, and his hopes of rekindling their romance lessens. But he canít forget her and no one else looks good to him. It seems the whole town, except for that banker, warms to Kate, but Cole canít let loose of his issue.

Everyone loves Kate. She runs a nice saloon, with the help of her old bartender. She convinces the general store owner that together they can sell candy and tobacco in her saloon and both make a nice profit. She donates proceeds to help the school buy new books and make repairs. She convinces everyone to create a Community Fund to help those in need.

The story is basically driven by the questionÖwill Cole give in and quit demanding Kate give up the saloon, or will Kate give in so that she and Cole can marry?

While entertaining, there are a few flaws here that lessened my enjoyment. Kate is extremely stubborn and canít seem to see it. This makes her less sympathetic, while never really providing an explanation for her stance. Cole is a good hero, but he too persevered on the correctness of his position a tad too long for me to fully embrace him.

Another problem is the attempt at side plots that never fully develop. There is the local livery ownerís courtship of the wealthy bankerís daughter. This relationship provides some comedy, but only in a peripheral way. There is no real substance to it. Another example is Coleís search for the outlaw that murdered his brother and sister-in-law. It is mentioned as a motivation, but has no real substance. When this outlaw shows up at the end, it seems contrived.

I did enjoy the banter and the development of Kate and Coleís romance as adults. It is clear they have more than an adolescentís crush now. Their romantic and love scenes are realistic and well-written, adding to the sense that this love is right for them both.

With a strong but stubborn couple, a nice group of secondary characters and a love story that seems destined to be, The Law and Kate Malone is a nice addition to your to-be-read file.

--Shirley Lyons


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