by Linda Howard

April 2000
ISBN: 1-55166-574-3
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books
Mass Market Paperback

Linda Howard has always written extraordinary romantic, not to mention steamy, stories and this is one is no exception!

Mary Elizabeth Potter, the newest teacher in Ruth, Wyoming, was concerned about an outstandingly bright student, Joe, who dropped out of school before she even came to town. Armed with a teacher's determination and her love for education, she visits Joe's home in hopes of persuading him to come back to school. What she encountered instead is Wolf, Joe's father, the malest of all men, with big broad shoulders and washboard abs, and in no time at all, they were sharing the most passionate deepest kiss that Mary Elizabeth has ever experienced. Not that she's experienced a whole lot, but she knows a really good kiss when she gets it! Wolf, on the other hand, didn't know what came over him. Sure, he knew he was a bit sexually frustrated for not having a woman for so long but a prim and proper spinster teacher is not what he had in mind!

Pretty soon, Mary is setting the town in its ears, tearing away their preconceived notions of Native Americans (or half-breeds, as Wolf and Joe are often referred to), which irritates the heck out of Wolf, who just wants to be left alone. But all of Mary's fuss in making the town socially accept Wolf and his son brings out a serial rapist in their midst, who is trying very hard to frame Wolf for the crime! When the criminal goes after Mary, however, the town gives wide berth to Wolf as he hunts for the rapist.

Ms. Howard once again brings us characters that we can thoroughly enjoy - Mary Elizabeth is a classic schoolteacher marm, complete with spectacles in a gunnysack dress and sturdy sensible shoes. She shouldn't be likeable in the least, especially when she wags her finger in schoolteacher scolding mode, but her wit, southern-based righteousness and determination, not to mention her eagerness for sex with Wolf, entices the reader to cheer her on in her crusade to win over Wolf and the town's acceptance of the Mackenzie's. Wolf, on the other hand, is silent and yummy - he's got the dark looks, the washboard abs and silent but menacing stares that either makes a woman want to swoon in his arms or run for dear life (the swooning is better!). Ms. Howard doesn't waste any time in preliminary sexless courting - the sexual tension sizzles (think HOT!) between Wolf and Mary from the beginning and that's just the way we like it!

Although the book is contemporary, it reads like a historical; the small western town with its small-minded citizens and the prejudice and bigotry against Native Americans - even going so far as to accuse one of a crime he didn't commit! Even some of the dialogues contain certain old world manners. So the mention of cars and monster trucks seem a bit anachronistic. But no matter, even the rapist plot is a great fodder to Wolf and Mary's relationship, which is what we're really interested in!

Ms. Howard has another winner in Mackenzie's Mountain!

Reviewed in October 2001 by Veronica.

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