Book one in a series about Whirlwind, Texas, introduces several promising characters, beginning with rancher Riley Holt and his best friend's sister, Susannah.
Susannah arrives on Riley's doorstep from St. Louis hoping to be married to him and thus rescued from a major indiscretion with her first love. She's pregnant and has been rejected by her shocked family. But the widowed Riley has no intention of getting married again, especially to a delicate city woman like his first wife.
Susannah finds refuge in town and pretends to be a widow. She and Riley resist their mutual attraction. Their painful earlier relationships complicate their falling in love; both are determined not to suffer the same way again, but love proves stronger.
WHIRLWIND BRIDE has good horse lore, bandits and western action, but Riley's illogical fear that a city woman is in more danger than a local one becomes a bit tedious. SENSUAL (Mar., 300 pp., $5.25)