Why is Pulver concocting mysteries when she clearly has the instincts of a romance writer and the knowledge (Murder at the War) to pull off an authentic, and maybe even rousing, historical? Here, we have a love story interrupted all too frequently with larcenous complications. Sergeant Peter Brichter falls in love, just like that, with shy, sweet, nightmare-plagued, memory-less orphan Kori Price, whose Uncle Nick has coddled, cosseted, and virtually incarcerated her at ""Tretowers"" since her parents' murders 14 years ago. He has also: blackmailed her tutor into staying on; ditto the stable hands; and made Tretowers a sort of convention center for Illinois drug traffickers (paisanos all, from his good old days as a Mafioso kingpin). Peter and Kori deliver a foal, watch the Arabians gambol, stutter and stammer and blush their way through dinners under Nick's baleful gaze; meanwhile, Kori is starting to remember, Peter is intent on breaking up Nick's crime ring, and Nick is protecting his flank by arranging Kori's kidnapping and quick demise. Who saves her? Need you ask? But before their true love can truly run smooth there's a gun battle at the corral; Kori's arm is broken; a squiggle in a book needs decoding; Uncle flees with a fortune (appropriated long ago from Kori's folks); and five brutal guard dogs provide a throat-gripping finale. The most interesting conversations in the book: Peter and Kori's historical asides. The best advice (given to Peter when he asks how he can tone down the abrasiveness of his personality): Bite your tongue.