Lone Star Lawman by Joanna Wayne
(Harl. Intrigue # 505, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-22505-9
***
Lone Star Lawman was an acceptable read for me, with the requisite plucky heroine and rugged hero. Heather Lombardi has come to the sleepy Texas town of Dry Creek to track down her birth mother. All she knows is that the woman left her at an orphanage some 25 years earlier, then vanished without a trace. Somebody in town must have seen her, talked to her.

No sooner does Heather arrive and begin to make inquiries than she starts receiving nasty notes. Someone doesn't want her investigating. Vacationing Texas Ranger Matt McQuaid first notices Heather as she crosses the street; when she approaches him in a local café and asks a few questions, he's suspicious. Matt is soon dragged into Heather's problems. He spies her car off the road in a lonely section of the countryside, and saves her from a possible rape. As it is, Heather has been beaten up and needs a safe place to hide out, so against his better judgment, Matt takes her to his house.

It seems that whoever wants Heather gone is playing for keeps. A body turns up in her motel room, wearing Heather's clothes. Mistaken identity? Or a warning? Matt is now embroiled in the mystery, and he and Heather are soon embroiled in a hot affair.

Matt and Heather acted like adults, thank goodness, and the author avoided the use of "woman rushing into danger to advance the plot". Instead, Heather has the smarts to realize she can't go it alone. Matt is portrayed as a reluctant hero, but one who is too honorable to turn away from a woman who so obviously needs his help.

The big mystery of Heather's mother isn't all that big of a mystery, and savvy readers will sniff it out the first time a hint is dropped, but the identity of the murderer is less obvious. All in all, readers who like fast-paced romantic suspense will likely enjoy Lone Star Lawman.

--Cathy Sova


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