WHAT THE HEART KNOWS by William W. Johnstone


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 A second hardcover from veteran western writer Johnstone (after Talons of Eagles, 1995, not reviewed)this one with a bad case of Robert James Waller envysends a 40-year-old ex-Marine back to his native Georgia to fall in love with a 20-year-old waif. Larry Baldwin, a divorced, hard-as-nails Manhattan businessman, moves back to small-town Georgia to find his rootsbut instead finds Cody West, orphaned, beautiful, and honest. She reminds Larry of butterflies (it's Johnstone's literary touch, a recurring motif). Thing is, Larry's new boss, Vic Goodman, the local mover and shaker, hates her guts. The novel thus neatly divides into twothe story of Larry and Cody, and the story of Vic's meanness. After Larry meets Cody, who shocks him because she hitchhikes and crashes in bus stations, he becomes her angel, arranging a job and a car for her, falling in love with her against his better judgment. He buys a house in the country, wondering ``What the hell was this passion?,'' while Cody, for her part, is more circumspect: ``Larry, I'm afraid what I want can never be. But we'll have some memories to keep locked away in some special places.'' Finally, the two make love; lo and behold, Cody's not only a virgin but sensitive (``You have a poetic side to you''). Soon enough, though, the lovers discover that they live on ``different wave-lengths,'' especially when Cody's friends visit and have trouble opening beer bottles: ``I'd once used a broken beer bottle to kill a man,'' Larry thinks. When Vic Goodman's drug- addled son rapes Cody and nearly kills her, Larry beats up the bad guys and makes them pay through the nose: Cody is set for the rest of her life, but she never wants to see Larry again. And Larry? He stops outside the hospital, to reach for a butterfly. A sentimental wannabe Bridges of Madison County, strictly for the romance crowd.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8217-5028-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1995