cover image Never Love a Cowboy

Never Love a Cowboy

Lorraine Heath. Avon Books, $6.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-380-80330-9

Heath is known for her deft characterizations, attention to historical detail and mastery of small moments, so it comes as no surprise that the second installment in her trilogy of Englishmen in Texas (after A Rogue in Texas) features all of the above, and more. There are moments of adventure and suspense to complement the quieter times, exquisitely rendered love scenes and a hero and heroine so lonely that watching them find each other is truly joyous. At the end of the Civil War, Englishman Harrison Bainbridge finds himself dirt poor in Texas, so he embarks on a business venture with Jessye Kane: driving cattle to sell for a profit up North. Jessye, a saloon owner's straight-talking daughter, seeks nothing but her financial independence. Though attracted to each other, Jessye assumes Harrison is little more than a lazy scoundrel and, with no successful romance in his past, Harrison does not believe love is his to give. Through the events on a cattle drive, Jessye comes to learn the Englishman's true character, but a villain from her past threatens the possibility of a romance and leaves Harrison gravely injured. As exciting as the cattle drive is, the illumination of Jessye and Harrison's characters, often through the eyes of others, shines brightest. A sub-plot involving a little girl may seem a bit too convenient, but it is one of Heath's strengths to take a standard plot point and make it new and vital. Though these characters are somewhat larger than life than those earlier in her career, Heath has more than enough talent to handle them. (Apr.)