Robards, whose last hairy hero (Walking After Midnight, 1995) kidnapped his true love at a funeral home (while he was buck-naked) and tied her up with her bra, pens a gentler and most predictable romantic thriller. Lean-and-mean Will Lyman is an FBI man on assignment at Keeneland Race Course in bluegrass Kentucky, where he's investigating racetrack fraud. On a stakeout he spies groom Molly Ballard--""a sexy little she-devil of a mantrap who chewed men up and spit them out like bubble gum""--stealing the $5,000 he's left as bait for a dishonest trainer. Poor but proud Molly, it turns out, is the sole supporter of her four younger sisters and brothers--and times, as always, are rough. Molly, 24, has lived in foster homes, and even spent some time at reform school, but she's given her siblings the best upbringing possible. Will, almost 40, becomes a paternal hero: He takes Molly and the kids in hand, giving the young ones a good role model, while forcing Molly, as an insider with access to the backstretch, to help him find the racetrack crooks. Neither Will nor Molly, however, wants to make a commitment to love; it's hard for either of them to show their vulnerable sides. She knows he'll return to his home in Chicago; he knows she's a big flirt with a real cute butt. And the reader knows that they're a done deal. As Will protects Molly from a slasher who's attacking and sexually molesting horses and little girls, he realizes that Molly is his woman. In church Molly finds that ""kneeling beside Will . . . felt so--so right."" And the sex, of course, is unbridled, unharnessed, and unstoppable. Molly may be experienced, but Will is dominating, masterful, and always in control. A tight-jeans romance that Robards does better than most, though it's not for those who like a heroine who keeps her backbone and also gets her man.