by Jayne Ann Krentz

November 2000
ISBN: 1-551-66494-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books
Mass Market Paperback

Margaret Lark has two very best friends, Kate Inskip Hawthorne and Sarah Fleetwood Trace. As Sarah leaves her wedding with her new husband, and Kate heads home to Amethyst Island with hers, Margaret is left alone in Seattle, introspectively wondering if she will ever know that kind of happiness in life. There was one man who could make her spontaneously combust just by kissing her, but he kicked her out of his life a year ago after a disastrous business deal caught Margaret in the middle. Forced to choose between her lover and her boss, Margaret chose loyalty to her boss - the resultant scene left her emotionally devastated. Fortunately, her writing had developed to a full-time career, so Margaret Lark was able to quit the corporate world and concentrate on her romances, which all took place in the boardroom and the bedroom, and all featured a hero who was suspiciously like her one-time lover, Rafe Cassidy.

So it is with enormous surprise and misgivings that Margaret returns home after Sarah's wedding to find a tall, dark, corporate cowboy, complete with boots, relaxing on her couch! Yes, Rafe has returned with a neat scheme to ensure his Maggie comes to the Cassidy ranch in Arizona for a couple of weeks. When situations like this arise in novels, it is easy to lose interest in the heroine as she wimps out of any confrontation with the hero, and follows him willy-nilly led by her hormones and her heart, while her brain goes off on vacation somewhere. Luckily, because we're in the skilled hands of Jayne Ann Krentz, Maggie gets somewhat better treatment. In his Machiavellian way, Rafe has presented Maggie with a no-win situation - she has to go to Arizona, there is simply no other choice. It isn't until well into the story that we (and Maggie) come to appreciate just how much groveling Rafe himself is doing, just to get to the point where he admits he wants her back! But Maggie has learned some hard lessons, and does not intend to let Rafe ride roughshod over her again! She comes up with her own interpretation of the situation and it is both ingenious and effective.

The character of Rafe Cassidy comes oh-so-close to being a chauvinistic and arrogant jerk, but again, thanks to the talents of Ms. Krentz, he is redeemed by a good sense of humor, and the ability to be honest with himself and Maggie when the situation requires it. In fact, all three heroes in this series, Jared Hawthorne (The Pirate), Gideon Trace (The Adventurer) and Rafe Cassidy (The Cowboy) share the essential values of strength, compassion, tenderness, (great sexual techniques), and a deep and abiding love for their chosen mates. Which may well explain why we are so swept up in the stories of these lovers and why we cheer for them as they head towards their happy endings. This story is no different, and it nicely rounds out the series which could well be bundled into a trilogy - publishers take note!!

Reviewed in December 2001 by Celia.

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