cover image The Bride of Johnny McAllister

The Bride of Johnny McAllister

Lori Copeland / Author Avon Books $5.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-380-

In her latest novel, romance veteran Copeland (The Courtship of Cade Kolby, etc.) serves up a classic Western love story complete with an embattled town, a feisty virgin and a bad guy with a heart of gold. Falsely convicted of bank robbery, drifter Johnny McAllister is remanded to a rehabilitation program in the home of a California judge. He aims to be a model prisoner, hoping to gain an early release and return to his life's mission: to kill the villain who slaughtered his family 15 years before. Then he meets beautiful Ragan Ramsey, the judge's young housekeeper and his new ""warden."" Johnny and Ragan are clearly made for each other, but their future looks bleak until true love finally quells his vengeance. The author's gentle humor can't disguise the lack of true conflict or drama in this tale, nor can it save a long and tiresome subplot in which inept townsfolk fight off equally blundering marauders. But Copeland's talent is evident in the book's smooth prose, crisp pacing and well-rendered main characters. Copeland delivers exactly what her fans expect: a sweet, traditional and frothily light romance. (Sept.)