by Ana Leigh

December 2002
ISBN: 0-380-82009-9
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

The Mackenzie family is like our own extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. When you pick up Cole it is like coming home once again. This is all due to the extraordinary writing talent of Ms. Leigh.

Cole MacKenzie received an urgent message from Mick “Pop” O’Shea saying he needed him desperately. Cole didn’t know what was going on but he left immediately to find out why. Unfortunately, Cole didn’t make it in time to talk to Pop, as he arrived during Pop’s funeral. But Cole was in for more of a shock than he has ever received - Pop made Cole the legal guardian of Margaret “Maggie” O’Shea, who was 18 years old. Cole didn’t want to be her legal guardian; he didn’t want to be responsible for another person, let alone the woman that Maggie had grown up to be. Cole was staying in Lawford until he found out how Pop really died and that meant being around Maggie and her so-called boyfriend, Keith Lawford.

Maggie was having trouble with the death of her father and the will that placed Cole as her guardian for the next three years. She had loved him since she was 14 years old but Cole never knew. He thought of her as a kid not as a woman. Maggie was trying to get on with her life but it wasn’t going anywhere because of her love for Cole. Try as she might with several different strategies to find out if Cole loved her, she couldn't find out.

Cole and Maggie butted heads on about every single thing possible throughout the story - basically from the time he showed up in Lawford. Cole was itching to see his family and had plans to leave Lawford with Maggie and travel to the Triple M, the family ranch. Some of their plans did not work as they wanted; they didn’t leave when they intended to and instead Cleve, Flint and Luke showed up to help handle a situation that Josh, Zach and Cole had gotten into. This is one of the things that I love about Ms. Leigh, this might be Cole’s story, but we get to meet the cousins, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles in each and every story, and we get a little catch up on the family members who previously had their own stories.

Ms. Leigh has done a wonderful job of writing Cole’s story. Not only did we have one love story happening between Cole and Maggie, but also we had another that was in trouble if Maggie goes through with one of her decisions that she had made. The secondary characters were delightful, and some not so delightful. One such delightful character was Ellie, the housekeeper of the O’Shea’s; she was able to put Cole and Maggie in their place when they needed it. There were some sad moments, funny, and dangerous situations that happened throughout the story, as well as some very interesting names of some stagecoach horses.

If you have not read any of the MacKenzie series, you don't know what you are missing. I would advise that you pick up the series on your next trip to the bookstore.

Reviewed in January 2003 by Pam.

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