HER LONE PROTECTOR
An unusual setting and colorful historical backdrop take Crooks' latest out of the usual western setting, but the author relies on stereotypical characters (the working-class immigrant girl, Italian anarchists, a Jewish sweatshop owner) to tell her story. There's nothing three-dimensional about either her characters or the story that live up to her usual fast-paced, lively western romances.
Gina's innocence and sweetness capture Creed's heart. With her mother missing in the fire and her life in tatters, Creed is her only hope: the one trustworthy man in a world gone crazy. The tender love that blossoms between them enables Gina and Creed to put together the pieces of their lives and stop a ruthless plot to destroy the government. (Harlequin, Dec., 300 pp., $5.50)