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    Review of A RANDALL HERO by Judy Christenberry (see her website)


    Harlequin American Romance #1193, January 2007

    Rancher John Randall is on his way home from dinner with friends when he spots--and barely avoids--a car stopped in the middle of the street. His own truck is damaged and John ends up spending the rest of the night with pretty, and very pregnant Lucy Horton, sharing warmth to keep from freezing in the cold Montana winter. By morning, when a passer-by gives them a reluctant rescue, John has started to have warm feelings for Lucy--feelings that only grow stronger when she relies on his help when her pregnancy abruptly turns to labor.

    Lucy Horton is on the run. Her husband beat her in an attempt to induce a miscarriage, and she knows he'll hunt her down. Her only chance at survival is to keep running--even if she does find John's strong arms a comfort in her time of need and danger. When John's entire Randall family reaches out to help her, she feels grateful for the first family she's ever known, but also frightened for them. Her husband won't let anyone stop him from chasing her down and anyone who gets in his way is likely to be hurt. Lucy can't afford to trust, even though there's no one she'd rather trust than John.

    John is tempted to spend his life rescuing Lucy, letting his ranch work suffer and dropping everything for her. It's hard for him to take the advice of his wise father, Griffin, and let Lucy have some room. But he gradually comes to see that, as an abused woman, Lucy needs to come to terms with her own ability and gain some sense of independence before she can commit to another man. Of course, John's willingness to back away does have its limits. He certainly means to protect her from her abusive husband, no matter what the cost. And he insists that she not sneak out of his life. If she must leave him, he demands at least the right to be told. Of course, if she walks out, she'll also take her little baby, Emma. And much as he's fallen in love with Lucy, he loves that baby nearly as much.

    Author Judy Christenberry (see more reviews of novels by Christenberry) continues her Randall series with the story of John Randall, son of Griffin (hero of COWBOY COME HOME). Like all of Christenberry's heroes, John is the kind of guy who wants to take care of his woman, whether she needs that care or not. Unlike many, though, John is willing to back off when he realizes that Lucy needs to recover from her abuse--and prove that she isn't the worthless person her husband persuaded her she was. One of the joys of Christenberry's Randall series is the strong sense of family that fills these books--and A RANDALL HERO is no exception. Lucy is quickly swept into the huge Randall family. Not only does John's mother, Camille, take to Lucy and little Emma, but the entire army of female Randalls chips in to help out and to provide the kind of support Lucy needs to recover. Christenberry downplays, but doesn't ignore the issues of abuse--issues that can make it difficult for an abused woman to form a healthy relationship.

    Especially squeemish readers may be concerned about the violence in the book, but Christenberry makes sure that at least our hero conducts his share of the violence within the law. Fans of the Randalls will definitely want to get their hands on this strong addition to the series.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 12/10/07

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