cover image Thunder of the Plains

Thunder of the Plains

Rosanne Bittner, F. Rosanne Bittner. Doubleday Books, $15 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-385-42148-5

The author of In the Shadow of the Mountains packs this diverting western romance so full--with likable characters, realistic dialogue and details about frontier life--that she balances the predictable love-conquers-all plot. In 1857, 15-year-old Sunny Landers travels west with father Bo to plan routes for the transcontinental railroad that has long been Bo's dream. Colt Travis, 20 and half Cherokee, acts as their guide; his strength, good looks and love of the land are matched with Sunny's sweet disposition and beauty as a powerful but postponed romantic possibility. The opposition of Sunny's family and, later, her duties as head of the Landers empire (which contrast sharply with Colt's outdoor life and belief in honest business practices) intervene. Convenient plot devices--accidents, chance meetings, family secrets--conjoin to ensure seemingly insurmountable obstacles to the lovers' future together. Lengthy psychological musings, torrid sex scenes and inspired descriptions of the settings build toward the inevitable happy ending. (Jan.)