cover image No Other Man

No Other Man

Shannon Drake. Avon Books, $6.99 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-380-77171-4

Unlike Drake's Branded Hearts, her latest, set primarily in 19th-century Blackfoot country, is rushed and slapped together. Readers familiar with her works may feel cheated upon entering Skylar Conner's topsy-turvy world. Skylar is on the run from her powerful, murderous stepfather. In her flight, she encounters the kind Lord David Douglas, who offers her sanctuary in marriage. What he doesn't tell her is that the marriage is by legal proxy to his youngest son. After the wedding, Lord Douglas dies (of natural causes), and Skylar treks to his estate in the Dakota Badlands. En route, her stagecoach is attacked by a Sioux raiding party and she is taken captive by the leader, who takes her to an isolated cabin, where he re-invents the bodice-ripping hero of 1970s' romances. Hawk is in fact Lord Douglas's half-breed son (surprised?) and hence Skylar's husband. The unhappiness caused by this discovery is compounded by Hawk's suspicions about Skylar's role in his father's death. Drake asks the reader for a healthy dose of suspended disbelief; Hawk slips too easily from war paint in one scene to smoking jacket in the next. There are other problems: Skylar's stubbornly (or stupidly, depending on your P.O.V.) guarded secret and two major unresolved issues that make a sequel inevitable. Even so, that's no excuse for the loose ends. (Nov.)