This book is a sweet romantic historical western set in 1880 Skull Gulch, New Mexico. Don’t you love the name of that town? Although I enjoyed this read immensely, I recommend reading the series chronologically. In the beginning, several characters are somewhat disassociated. But once past that barrier, I was hooked. Ms. Connealy skillfully wove in two suspenseful subplots, kept us guessing who the low-down land-grabbing villain could be (who is hellbent on knocking off members of the family one by one). The author’s skillful use of description draws you into the old west with shootouts, aromas from cook stoves and leather, and die-hard ranchers defined by the western life.
Although the Boden family is beleaguered with their parents absent from the ranch, and one brother wounded, the onus is on them to find out why they’ve been struck with this harrowing streak of bad luck. Justin Boden, the uninjured brother, taking the lead in running the ranch and trying to discover the root to their bad luck takes a shining to Angie, the frail but beautiful, assistant to the doctor helping his brother heal, who just arrived from the big city. How can he resist such a beautiful little bird fallen from the nest? But she’s not cut out to be a rancher’s wife.
Angie, suppressed all her life by her mother and then by her repressive husband, goes west after both of their deaths reveling in her independence. It’s her chance for freedom and she’s taking advantage of it. When Justin begins to exhibit tender feelings toward her, she reacts like a congressional filibuster. She keeps talking about something else until he wanders away. Her freedom is new and precious to her. Until another woman puts herself between Justin and a bullet saving his life. Angie realizes she could have lost him.
Angie’s kidnapping forces the Boden’s hand—the game changes for everyone. Will they lose the ranch? Will their parents get back in time with clues to help? Angie, in the company of the hoodlums, now knows their plans and realizes she must do something to warn the Boden’s. Will the frail little flower from the east save the day? She must because she now knows she loves him. Angie puts her trust in God and prays for strength to not only survive but escape.
And Justin? Trust me, you want to be inside his head while he’s frantically trying to find his highly inappropriate, but somehow perfect woman. God help them if she’s hurt. Angie and Justin’s gradual awareness of their special bond becomes an emotionally charged journey that will stay with me for a long time. If you like suspense, there’s plenty of it on the pages of this addictive read.