by Lauren Bach

November 2001
ISBN: 0-446-6114-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Warner Books
Mass Market Paperback

This probably isn't the first book that Lauren Bach has written if she has already won awards for her excellent writing. And though it's the first she's published and the first one I have read, it certainly won't be my last!

It was unfortunate for Tess Marsh to literally run out of gas in the middle of nowhere (somewhere in Montana) at two o'clock in the morning. As a jewelry designer, her best ideas come when she's driving… but not necessarily at 2am! Fortunately for her, Dallas Haynes, her white knight, charges in atop a black Harley to rescue her. Unfortunately, for both of them, Dallas is in a very dangerous situation in which Tess is unwittingly and forcibly dragged into. Without giving away too much of the story, the romance is full of tension and drama along with non-stop action. The whole book reads very much like a really good action film - and there's no doubt that, if possible (perhaps to a super fast reader!), it can be read in two hours as well!

Tess Marsh comes from a rich family whose whole focus is on either their social status (her mother) or in maintaining their business empire (her father and brother). Thus, it saddens her to know that when she's in trouble, her family wouldn't notice her disappearance until months later. Aside from her dysfunctional family, her character is independent and self-sufficient - which is why the circumstance that she found herself in is heartbreaking to read.

Dallas Haynes knows this; he's aware that Tess is up against her worst fears and yet she remains standing - a little weaker but not quite broken. Regrettably for Dallas, he can't do much to alleviate her fears until the worst is over. Dallas is the epitome alpha male - he's mean and tough when necessary, and, of course as required of romantic heroes, he's caring and thoughtful as well as being nicely packaged (in more ways than one!). However, Tess doesn't know the real Dallas… and you won't either! At least, not from this review!

Ms. Bach's writing is superb - it's so good it's scary! Literally. It was easy to empathize with Tess and Dallas in their times of crises and in their blossoming relationship. While I already applaud her for creating a "smart" as well as a sensual romance (steam factor is HIGH!) between Tess and Dallas, the very best thing that I found was that there was no "big misunderstanding" or morning-after regrets when she could have easily had one. Ms. Bach took the high road by acknowledging that she's dealing with two very clever characters and she's clever enough herself not to bog them with any other emotional insecurity except for the "real" ones that they already face. Sometimes Tess can be a bit prissy but it was easy enough to overlook it considering her upbringing and the horrible circumstances she faced (I highly doubt I would do any better than she did in a similar situation!) The plot is riveting - the action is non-stop and easy enough to believe because of the incredible little details (not too much to be a drag) that Ms. Bach include, most of which pertains to law-enforcement (hint-hint!). While the plot is interesting, the romance is also equally absorbing, if not more so. Ms. Bach's romantic twist on the Stockholm Syndrome is brilliant… you'll see!

Needless to say, Lone Rider is a highly recommended read. Even if you don't like cops and robbers stories, it's hard to put this one down once you've read past the first page (believe me, I tried - I gave up sleep instead!). I'll definitely be looking for more Lauren Bach stories… and here's another hint: the next one is due out in the summer of 2002.

Reviewed in November 2001 by Veronica.

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