When eight-year-old Sydney leaves Denver to spend the summer in Mexico with her estranged father, Geoff, at the start of this third novel in Wingate's Texas Hill Country series, her mother, divorced paleontologist Lindsey Attwood, doesn't quite know what to do with herself. At the behest of her twin sister, Laura, and girlfriend Collie Collins (the protagonist of the series' first novel, Texas Cooking), Lindsey finds herself in San Saline, Tex., helping solve a mystery of missing dinosaur tracks on a local ranch while posing as a member of a horse psychology class. Lindsey falls for veterinarian-turned-cowboy Zach Truitt, and as their romance blooms, she wrestles with the problems that consume her: faith, fear and doubts about her ability to love again. Of course, in the end, the horse psychology class actually teaches Lindsey a thing or two-she conquers her fear of horses, makes peace with her ex-husband, solves the dinosaur case and learns to both accept and revel in her new relationship. Wingate attempts to mesh mystery with romance, but with slapdash writing and flat characters, her latest novel comes up short of her previous books' sincerity and warmth. Agent, Claudia Cross. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Wingate (Lone Star Cafe, 2004, etc.) once again sends a single career woman to rural Texas, where she finds romance and adventure. When her no-account ex decides to finally exercise his parental rights and take their young daughter to Mexico for the summer, Lindsey Attwood finds herself depressed and at loose ends. For eight years, her life has been safely organized around daughter Sydney and a stable job cataloguing fossil exhibits at a Denver museum. Sensing her distress, Lindsey's sister Laura, in cahoots with her old friend Collie, lures her to San Saline, Texas, where journalist Collie needs her expert help investigating the disappearance of some ancient dinosaur tracks. The tracks were located near the Jubilee Ranch, a "horse therapy" camp where stressed-out city folks learn to relax and commune with horses. The plan is for Lindsey to attend the camp under the guise of being a patient, so she can closely observe the crime scene. The problem is that she's terrified of horses. Enter Zach Truitt, a twinkly-eyed part-time cowboy and full-time veterinarian helping out at the ranch. He takes a shine to Lindsey, teaches her about horses and fixing windmills, and in no time the pair are discovered "wrapped around each other like lizards on a beanpole." Despite their differences, Lindsey and Zach are perfect for each other, but their courtship is hampered by her misgivings about sacrificing an ordered life for love. She thinks that reticent Zach is hiding something big about his past, and she ultimately discovers that he too is a battled-scarred veteran of divorce and the family-court system. Wingate lets her magical Texas locations and idiosyncratic supporting characters shine, though themystery of the missing fossils never really seems to matter. Far more important is Lindsey's emotional journey, as she learns to trust both man and beast. Charming love story with cowboys and a New Age twist.