Shirlee Busbee, Author . Warner $6.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-446-61189-3

Historical romance writer Busbee (Swear by the Moon, etc.) sets her debut contemporary in a remote California valley full of gorgeous scenery, thriving ranches and hard feelings, particularly between the Ballingers and Grangers. Shelly Granger's youthful romance with Sloan Ballinger seemed to bring the warring clans together; then she discovered him cheating and fled Oak Valley for New Orleans. Many years later, the suicide of her beloved brother, Josh, forces Shelly back home, where she discovers several things Josh had concealed from her—including his gambling addiction, his dismantling of the family's cattle business, his dubious friends and the fact that he may have set up the betrayal that drove her away years earlier. Little by little, Shelly works to restore the family fortune and rebuild her trust with Sloan. Dense backstory and an overpopulation of minor characters make the book slow going at times, and Busbee's assumption that a smart modern woman would isolate herself for decades from the home, man and family she adores on the flimsiest of evidence is romance writing at its silliest. Despite its modern date and explicit sex scenes, there's little here that feels truly contemporary. Still, Busbee's descriptive tale is sure to please those who like their love stories lush and laid-back. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1351-6
Hardcover - 503 pages - 978-0-7862-5241-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-446-55005-5
Hardcover - 211 pages - 978-0-446-70960-6
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