Amazing Gracie

The Cowgirl & the
Unexpected Wedding

The Littlest Angel



The Unclaimed Baby

After Tex by Sherryl Woods
(Mira $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-55166-542-5
Your impression of After Tex may depend entirely upon how you feel about Martha Stewart. I'm the first to admit I can't cook unless it's frozen and microwaveable. There is too much pandemonium at my house to ever have things neat and precise. Yet I have a somewhat morbid fascination with Martha and her impeccable lifestyle. Watching her show, I sit thinking, "She's gotta be kidding." But yet, I'm riveted.

Megan O'Rourke rules an entertainment empire. She publishes a magazine, writes how-to books on home lifestyles and hosts a daily television show, Megan's World. So what if she's a bit stressed out? Things are exactly the way she wants them. She is a powerhouse in New York and in charge of every aspect of her life. Until the sudden death of her grandfather, Tex.

Tex raised Megan from the age of nine, when her mother abandoned her on the doorstep of his Wyoming ranch. Tex was a gruff and demanding task master, but Megan grew to love him and has spent the majority of her life working to win his approval. Although Tex was secretly proud of all she accomplished, he thought she belonged back on the ranch.

When Megan returns for his funeral, her life is turned upside down with the discovery that she is now the legal guardian of Tex's eight-year-old daughter, Tess. A daughter Megan knew nothing about. Tex's will stipulates that Tess must be raised on the ranch. If Megan returns to New York, she will forfeit her inheritance. The money means nothing to Megan, but she knows she would not be able to live with herself if she abandons Tess, like her own mother abandoned her years before.

This is the crux of the story. It's great fun watching Megan deal with a difficult and confused eight-year-old, trying to run a business empire long distance and watching her New York cronies trying to function in a tiny Western town without (gasp!) anywhere to buy things like a cappuccino.

But you may have noticed I haven't mentioned a hero for Megan. There is one, Jake Landers, but his presence is superfluous. This story belongs to Megan. Jake, an attorney, is the executor of Tex's estate and a childhood sweetheart of Megan's. Sure the sparks fly when they are together, but it often seems more like lust than love.

The only conflict between the pair is an old misunderstanding, which is quickly cleared up and Megan's decision whether to remain in Wyoming or return to New York. Because most of the action occurs when they are separated, the romantic element suffers. Since that's why we're all here, this is definitely a problem.

All in all, if you think you'd enjoy watching a Martha Stewart-type trying desperately to hold on while her world spirals out of control, you may very well enjoy this book. I certainly did. But if it's a heartwarming romance you're after, then this is probably not the best choice for you.

--Karen Lynch

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