cover image Nobody's Darling

Nobody's Darling

Teresa Medeiros. Bantam Books, $7.5 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-553-57501-9

Love stories between educated spinsters and cowboy rogues set in towns with silly names seem to be the romance-western flavor of the year. Millie Criswell's Dangerous matched a short, bounty-hunting horticulturist with a rangy Texas Ranger. In Calamity, N.Mex., Medeiros leaves time-travel mode to pit another hero in ""sinfully tight... Levi's"" against a reedy music teacher. Esmerelda Fine, the impoverished granddaughter of a duke, has sold her Boston music school to track down the varmint who murdered her little brother, Bartholomew. That grizzled outlaw turns out to be tall, handsome Billy Darling, ""part legend and all man,"" who lives in a whorehouse--Miss Mellie's Boardinghouse for Young Ladies of Good Reputation. With Billy's help, Esmerelda discovers that her brother isn't dead, but has metamorphosed into the notorious ""Black Bart"", who breaks laws in order to research dime novels. Medeiros's outstanding sense of humor, sexual tension and steamy passion save a silly plot, which seems artificially prolonged when the duke takes Esmerelda to London and Billy follows, in a traveling Wild West show. (Apr.)