cover image Cherish


Catherine Anderson. Avon Books, $7.99 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-380-79936-7

Using narrative heavy with Larry McMurtry-style jargon, Anderson (Simply Love; Forever After) blends the crusty ambience of a cattle drive through New Mexico with the sensitively written shock of a young girl's trauma after she witnesses the brutal deaths of her Quaker parents. After an attack by thieves, Rebecca Morgan is in trouble: the wagons are ruined, her companions are dead. So when rancher and gunslinger Race Spencer happens by and offers to take her (and the only intact covered wagon, complete with a hidden stash of money), she can't really refuse. Spencer tries to heal and bed Rebecca, managing the latter with Anderson's usual charm and humor. But when the healing becomes more than he can handle, he has no choice but to find Rebecca's people and return her to them. Unfortunately, that's where the bad guys are. Despite the rich texture, this tale is disappointing in its unevenness and lack of originality. (Nov.)