The little town of Edgewood, Texas needs a schoolhouse, so it passes the Bachelor Tax, which states any single man who hasnt proposed to an eligible young woman within the last year, must ante up a percentage of his income.

Rancher Gabriel Tanner has a plan. He knows that Rosemary Gibson, the daughter of the recently deceased parson, hopes to stay on as the new parsons wife. To avoid the Bachelor Tax, he only has to ask a woman to marry him, and Gabe has no doubt that this mousy, dark-haired excuse for a woman will turn him down.

Indeed Rosemary sends him on his way, certainly without an affirmative answer. However, what he fails to notice until Rosemarys circumstances force her to bring it to his attention, is that she doesnt really refuse.

Nothing about Rosemary matches Gabes first impression of her and he soon must decide not only if he wants to remain a bachelor, but if he wants to take on the responsibilities of fatherhood for two abused children she insists he rescue.

Light humor, strong sexual tension and the Western motif become finely blended elements of the rural texture and gently nostalgic morality of this reality-based family romance. From desperate situation to upbeat ending, Carolyn Davidson reminds us why we read romance. Sensual (Feb., 299 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger