He’s the most dangerous gunman in the West. She’s a “lady doctor” he can’t resist. Will his secret torments keep them apart? How can she handle a wounded outlaw no respectable woman should go near? Romance and intrigue are about to collide in a steamy Texas town where sin, scandal and violence rule the night.
A strange sort of current flowed between them, charged with as much intensity as a bolt of lightning. Devon felt it tighten around him, binding him to her in some inexplicable way that he couldn’t explain and didn’t want to acknowledge.
Lovers of historical romance fiction set in the 19th century American West will be delighted that Bell Bridge books have seen fit to re-release this Virginia Brown novel, first released in 1994. Devon’s story really begins in book one of this series where he and his sister known then as Colorado Kate formed the Lost Canyon Gang with their other riders, robbing trains in order to gain revenge on the man who had murdered their parents and stolen their father’s mine. Now Devon wanders the Western reaches of the American territories, known as one of the fastest guns for hire, rumored to be a man without conscience, no roots, and little interest in anyone but himself. Few realize that he carries with him an old but as-yet unhealed wound, deeply grieving the death of his young wife of only a few weeks at the hand of the very man who killed his parents. It is in pursuit of another lawless and greedy man that Devon is gravely injured and thus comes into the small and new medical practice of Dr. Maggie Malone.
This novel tells the story of a woman who is not interested in being a society grande dame, carefully sitting in her spotless parlor, drinking tea out of fragile bone china cups. She is a woman who wants to amount to something and one who makes a difference in a world where women are little more than brood mares and who exist to do the super duper pooper scooping of the world. (Not a lot has changes in some ways, eh?) She is doing so in spite of her brother’s continuous objections, a man with a temper, a rather exaggerated sense of his own importance and one who has yet to appreciate the grace and intelligence of his sister. He is especially upset when he finds out that Maggie has been treating Devon, that her patient has been staying in her little house as he is being cared for. And throughout this novel it becomes patently obvious that John Malone is not a deep thinker, that he is driven by his own ideas and prejudices, and cares little for the opinions of others, least of all a woman even though she may be his sister.
Thus, these two people, both of whom are living on the edges of polite society, find each other. Their relationship is flawed and troubled, by Maggie’s insistence on honesty and openness, by Devon’s persistent routine of just showing up, spending time with her, and then disappearing. She knows he has some painful secrets and that no matter how generous her love, Devon won’t allow himself to believe that there is ever the possibility that love and joy can be a part of his future. When Maggie’s brother forces them into a true shotgun wedding, an event that he has manipulated with lies and deceit, it appears that any chance for Devon and Maggie’s future together is over and done. Throw in some really evil plotters, rustlers, an angry fiance, and you have a colorful, rip-snorter of a novel that will be a sure fire winner all around.
I know there are many who think reading romance novels is the stuff empty headed women indulge in for lack of anything worthwhile to do. Yet here there is a lot to learn and lessons that are taught in the lives of these fictional characters, wisdom shared through the voice of an Apache renegade, “ah-ha” moments that are critical to the story, and visits with characters from the previous novel. Most of all, I think one of the important lessons here is that “no man is an island” and that there is no pain too deep, no wound too profound, that the redeeming power of love and authentic caring cannot heal.
I am so glad this novel and the one before it have been released. I think you will be glad you experienced it. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.