cover image Love Me Tender

Love Me Tender

Susan Fox. Kensington/Zebra, $6.99 mass market (480p) ISBN 978-1-4201-3576-3

Fox knows how to strike just enough sway between sweet and bitter, homespun and steamy, to sustain a reader’s interest in her fourth novel set in the small town of Caribou Crossing, British Columbia (after Gentle on My Mind). This time around, local hotelier, “nicest guy in town,” and confirmed immovable object Dave Cousins encounters wanderer Cassidy Esperanza, who has no money, no job, and no prospects. From the day she faints in the lobby of Dave’s Wild Rose Inn, Cassidy has a place in the innkeeper’s heart. Dave’s wife, Anita, succumbed to cancer, and he’s sure he’ll never love again, but he can’t resist Cassidy’s joie de vivre. When the girl with the Canada goose tattoo is forced into a reckoning about some serious issues, the couple’s wild, noncommittal fling faces a now-or-never assessment. It’s a sweet story, well told, with credible characters about bitter pills. Included is a bonus novella, “Stand by Your Man,” which provides the backstory of another couple briefly featured in the novel. Agent: Emily Sylvan Kim, Prospect Agency. (Dec.)