cover image The Maverick of Copper Creek

The Maverick of Copper Creek

R.C. Ryan. Grand Central/Forever, $8 mass market (400p) ISBN 978-1-4555-7225-0

The magic of Ryan's best work is missing from this perfunctory effort, which kicks off the Montana-set Copper Creek Cowboys series. The contemporary reunion romance between Ash MacKenzie and Brenna Crane offers little that is new. Ash, the first son of a legendary rancher, leaves behind his sweetheart, Brenna, to strike out on his own. He returns home a decade later following the murder of his father and learns that his onetime love is engaged to an ambitious government official. The murder is not the focus of the suspense subplot; by the story's midpoint it becomes clear that sweet, kind, and loving Brenna is in grave danger. Though the MacKenzie family dynamic is a strong point and Ash and Brenna share a nice chemistry, Ryan (aka Ruth Langan) does a poor job of foreshadowing true colors of Brenna's fianc%C3%A9 and an even worse one maintaining the secrecy of the villain's identity. (Oct.)