In book two of the Return to Red River series (a take-off of the original Red River series), Thorliff Bjorklund is leaving his childhood sweetheart, Anji, to pursue his dream of writing at St. Olaf College. In the beginning, both believe their relationship can withstand the distance.

After a rocky start, Thorliff and Elizabeth Rogers, the daughter of the family he's staying with, come to respect each other's work. Both go to St. Olaf's and work at a local newspaper.

But to put off her matchmaking mother, Elizabeth fakes an engagement with Thornton Wickersham. Because he has real feelings for her, Thornton agrees to the ruse in hopes that their pretend relationship will eventually develop into something real.

While the author has a strong and engaging voice, the story did not hold my interest. In the end, it seems as if this installment of the series was merely a vehicle to set up a future romance for Thorliff and Elizabeth. I did, however, enjoy the uniqueness of Ms. Snelling's vocabulary and knowledge of this culture and era. (Aug., 320 pp., $11.99)

Reviewed by: 
Bev Huston