Pam Crooks weaves the personal history of her quintessential cowboy hero through an intense Western romance, making him both rival and lover of the heroine. The central story is about a young womans struggle to win the respect and admiration of a father whom she believes has always been disappointed that shes not a son.
Sonnie Mancuso, sixth daughter and youngest child of a Wyoming cattle baron, comes home after a long exile in Boston, imposed by her father. Shes studied subjects related to ranching and hopes to prove her worth to her father at last by running the Rocking M Ranch for him after his serious heart attack. She soon discovers that Lance Harmon, merely another working cowboy to her, fills her fathers needs on the ranch as well as his stubborn need for a son.
Vince Mancuso brought Lance to the Rocking M from an orphan train and has never been disappointed. Lance took to ranch life completely. The life Lance suffered before coming to the ranch makes him grateful, but also restrains him from expressing his fierce love for Sonnie.
The resolution of Sonnies competition with Lance for her fathers respect soon takes second place to the greater danger of rustlers, gunfighters and an impending range war. Its the danger of loss that finally reveals the primacy of love to both Sonnie and Lance in this well-crafted tale. Sensual. (Mar., 310 pp., $4.99)