Leisure, Dec 2001, 5.99, 400 pp.
She knows her father loves her, but though she caused a bit of a scandal, Lilla Traften cannot understand why he exiled her to the Texas Panhandle. The spoiled Lilla becomes unglued when her stagecoach breaks an axle, but soon forgets everything after the driver gives her “nasty tasting water” that leaves her drunk. Ranch foreman Grady Finch rescues Lilla from any unwanted advances. Though he believes she is a prostitute, Grady refuses to take advantage of her in her inebriated state, but plans to enjoy her as soon as she is sober.
However, Grady soon realizes his misconception, as Lilla is the snooty type who behaves just like the snobs that rebuffed his mother. Though very attracted to her, he cannot stand her airs of superiority. Meanwhile, Lilla believes she needs to prove to this uncouth cowboy that she can survive without daddy's money. As each one tries to trump the other, love trumps both of them.
DESERT BLOOM, the sequel to PRICKLY PEAR, is an amusing western romance. Readers will initially want the hoity Lilla to get her comeuppance, but talented Ronda Thompson quickly turns that around so that the audience quickly roots for the female lead to get her man. Grady still carries the scars of his childhood, which endears him to the readers, who will delight in Ms. Thompson's humorous tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner