March 23, 1998 12:00 PM

by Jo-Ann Mapson

Fresh starts are never easy, but for pregnant, impetuous, 34-year-old Chloe Morgan, whose heart is as broken as her front tooth, the past is inescapable.

In Jo-Ann Mapson’s fourth novel (a sequel to her popular Hank & Chloe), the part-time waitress and horse trainer and her long-suffering boyfriend have fled California for the wilds of northern Arizona, where they live in a cabin on Hank’s meager salary as a third-grade teacher, waiting for their baby to come. But it’s the arrival of handsome Junior Whitehorse, acclaimed Navajo artist, that upsets the delicate balance of their unwed bliss. For Chloe, who has never before faced a dilemma that a horseback ride could not fix, Junior’s ardor for her proves irresistible. Mapson’s tale truly gets into high gear when Chloe, adopted as a child, learns she may have located her birth mother. In fact, Chloe, Hank and Junior are all orphans of sorts, seeking answers about mothers they never knew. Mapson’s storytelling is at times slow-moving, but she has drawn compelling characters for her fable of interconnectedness and absolution. (Harper Flamingo, $24)

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