by Lynna Banning, historical (2000)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29137-X
What a nice romance. The Law And Miss Hardisson pairs no-nonsense city gal lawyer Irene Hardisson and that gambling Texas Ranger on a mission of vengeance, Clayton Black in such a fun, entertaining, and romantic manner that I am charmed. I don't usually like romances with court cases (in romance novels, most of the time court cases are actually oversentimental sob cases in disguise - see Betina Krahn's otherwise excellent The Last Bachelor), but the court case here works too.
Clayton is hot on the trail of an outlaw who has murdered his family - the usual drill. He storms into Crazy Creek, Oregon, one fine day only to foam at the mouth when he realizes that the outlaw has fled after wrecking havoc on Crazy Creek. Ms Banning, the lawyer, is the one who negotiated the outlaw's freedom in return for a young hostage's return, and Clayton is pretty mad at her too.
Clay will stay in town to find out where the outlaw went, and he would kill that SOB. But ooh, Irene, who more or less helped in saving his life once, maddens him. She tempts him. She wants him to teach her how to play poker - read that all you want. And she wears a hat with cherry blossoms. Clay doesn't stand a chance.
The last few chapters are pretty incoherent and choppy, and Irene's tendency not to tell Clay things can be irritating, but these two people are so nice and they are so right together that they put a smile on my face. The humor is light and fun and the chemistry, not exactly explosive, simmers just nicely.
For putting a smile on my face and a few hours of pleasant entertainment, The Law And Miss Hardisson gets my two thumbs up.
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