Leisure, Mar 2003, 5.99, 310 pp.
In 1872 New Mexico Territory, bounty hunter Christopher Braddock seeks out stagecoach robber Corey Sullivan, the weakest link of a gang that killed the driver. At Corey's spread, he meets the outlaw's sister Lorelei who will do anything to keep her brother safe. Although he believes nothing she says as he hates southern belles, Christopher makes it clear that he will take her brother to jail, but his prime goal is to catch the gang leader Mulcahy.
After talking with Corey, Lorelei visits Braddock in his hotel room to offer a deal if he would keep her sibling safe. He ends up buying her food and protecting her, pretending she is his wife when temporary Deputy Marshal Langston arrives to arrest her for abetting a criminal. Soon Braddock accompanied by the Sullivan siblings is on the lam from the law even as he falls in love with Lorelei.
Western romance fans will appreciate the fine story line of AFTER THE ASHES. The tale is filled with action, but it is the strong cast that makes it fun to follow. Braddock is the brooding hero who still is fighting the Civil War inside his head until Lorelei returns him to the living. Lorelei is the ultimate family loyalist perhaps too much so because her manipulative brother does not deserve her love or her assistance. Cheryl Howe writes a charming American romance that will please sub-genre fans.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner