Like Lucien Truscott in his recent thriller Heart of War, Ruggero takes aim at relations between the sexes in this lurid potboiler about scandal at West Point. The potboiling itself is the work of Kathleen Gates, wife of Major Tom Gates, the new West Point tactical officer. When a letter of reprimand is drawn up over an incident between Major Gates and cadet Wayne Holder, Kathleen goes to bat for her husband in Jackie Collins style, sparking a scandal of her own that she will use (with the help of a headline-grabbing senator who wants to cut West Point's budget) to save her husband's career. Readers who can believe Ruggero's premise--that a woman would initiate sex with a stranger to protect her husband--will find this a gripping tale. Others will be less impressed with this series of steamy peccadilloes in which (barring a couple of conspiratorial generals) the manipulative, foolhardy and gullible characters are overwhelmingly female. Either way, Ruggero (Breaking Ranks) has written a fascinating story that mixes hardheaded realism about what it takes to be a soldier with over-the-top flourishes, including a born-again cadet who commits suicide when he learns that his girlfriend has been coerced into an abortion, and a back-pew sex scene that takes place during a re-enactment of the Jonathan Edwards sermon ""Sinners in The Hands of an Angry God."" (Nov.) FYI: Ruggero was a student at West Point (he served in the Army for 11 years) and later an assistant professor of English there.