It's not that Ophelia Kendrake doesn't like men, she's just too wise to trust them after watching her father profess his love to countless women. Her father was a wonderful man, even providing a home for Jenny, who was abandoned as a child at the theater where he was performing, but he couldn't be trusted with women.

Since she was 17, Ophelia has been raising her adopted sister alone, using her talent for poker to keep them solvent. When they are headed for Dead End, Wyoming, on a pair of stolen train tickets and the borrowed identity of Countess of Bridgewater, Jenny's treasured book, The Emperor's New Clothes, gives Ophelia the idea of selling something that doesn't exist: her royal title.

The citizens of Dead End are trusting and eager for culture, but the reluctant mayor, Tyler Matthews, is far too sophisticated and well traveled to believe Ophelia is an English countess, especially since she keeps forgetting her late husband's name. But the magnetism between them is certainly not fake.

Ms. Alexander's warm romp of a western will leave you smiling right along with the ladies of the Every Other Tuesday and Thursday Afternoon Ladies' Cultural Society, whose main cultural activity is poker. SWEET (Jan., 209 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Cindy Royce