Author: Caroline Clemmons
Genre: Historical, Western, Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Description/Synopsis: He’s a by-the-book Texas sheriff; she’s on the run from a murder conviction…
When a tornado provides Rosalyn with the opportunity to escape the gallows, she collects her daughter Lucy and flees. They travel far enough West that Rosalyn believes she’s gone to the ends of the earth. She hopes she and Lucy will be safe in this remote North Texas town where she embarks on a new life as a dressmaker. If only she could avoid contact with people, especially the handsome sheriff who pops up every time she turns around. She fears either she or her chatterbox daughter may slip and reveal too much.
Joel Stone has been content with his life, even if it’s not the one he’d dreamed. His younger brothers are married and living nearby, his aunts have moved to Radford Springs, and he is respected for the efficient job he does as sheriff. When he meets the new widow in town, his instant attraction staggers him. She appears uninterested, but he is determined to win her hand in marriage.
But life doesn’t turn out the way either Rosalyn or Joel plan. They overcome temporary obstacles, but what of the secret she protects? Can he save her from the gallows?
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
Once again, let’s start with the cover: it’s another cut and paste job, only this time it’s super-obvious. The white background behind the model can still be found like a halo around her head. Unfortunately, she’s also a completely different model (and much older) than the one represented on the back cover…. and despite the fact that they’re supposed to be living in historical times, they both have massive amounts of makeup on. Sigh.
That being said, like the book before it, I found this one to be a bit of a mixed bag. It’s clear, easy to follow, and interesting… the plot is a good one: woman escapes from nearly being hung for a crime she didn’t commit, and finds herself fleeing to the middle of nowhere and falling in love with a member of the law who at any moment may discover her deep dark secret. It’s a good premise. Unfortunately, like the other books in the series, the characters lacked a sense of depth, and the events in the book were a little too convenient to be believable.
I think my least favorite character was probably Joel. Here’s this guy who’s a Texas sheriff, seems to have his life pretty much well in order – he takes care of his brothers, he’s good in the community, and he has a big ole house he’s working on renovating. He obviously had all his ducks in a row and was a responsible, level-headed guy. Right? Except nearly the moment he meets Rosalyn and her daughter Lucy, he’s smitten. We’re talking full-out puppy-love where he practically invites himself into her company and goes all gooey-eyed. He acted like a 40-yr-old virgin, desperate for affection. It wasn’t endearing, and it wasn’t sweet, it was roll-your-eyes “are you serious?”.
Rosalyn, on the other hand, was probably one of my favorite characters, because she looked at Joel pretty much the same way I did “Really? Back off dude.” All she wanted to do was raise her daughter in anonymity, and run her struggling dress-shop. She was a hard worker, practical, and cautious. It fit her situation, and I loved her for it. Unfortunately, circumstances were against her, and it seemed that at every turn, something drastically awful was happening to her. It started with a hurricane that leveled the jail she was waiting in (though didn’t harm her), then the fire… that burned her dress shop and endangered her daughter’s room, but didn’t harm anyone in the family, and she was able to salvage some of her shop-equipment/materials, thereby forcing her to move in with the sheriff. Like I said, it all seemed just a little too convenient.
Also, I think the secondary characters were a bit too much like props, and too little like actual people. They all either seemed to love Rosalyn and Lucy, or they hated their guts and wanted them crushed. They showed up for brief mentions here and there, but really didn’t have much impact on the story (even when it was obvious the author was using them to drive the plot… like the angry school teacher that burned down Rosalyn’s house). I found their hatred of her to be very manufactured. It was a convenient way to make events happen, but the attempt at tension fell flat for me.
So did I like the story? Yah. I did. It was a fun afternoon read, and while it wasn’t “great writing”, it did hold my interest, and there’s something to be said for that. Would I recommend it to other people? Maybe if they needed a book to read at the doctor’s office… but I don’t think I’d be shoving the book in their hands shouting “READ THIS!”. If you like sweet, happy-ending historical romances, then give this a try. It’s cute, and it’s a great afternoon read.