Leisure, Jul 2003, 6.99, 369 pp.
In 1870 on the Half Moon Ranch in Texas Hill Country, Brent Hunter heard shots. He raced home to find his drunken father Jack holding a gun while his mother lies dead. The three older males, Brent and his two brothers Quince and Matt, hide their loss behind stoic faces. The youngest child, their sister Abby was hysterical. Jack is convicted of the homicide. Brent plans to make a go of the ranch, but learns how much collateral his father took out at the bank.
Ten years later, Brent spends time at a nearby saloon because he likes the bargirl Ruby who reminds him of another bargirl whose life he saved. As he flirts with Ruby, she completes what he started when he rescued her by falling in love with him. Brent does not need female trouble now, but he wonders if love is really trouble. Ruby who is Crystal Stewart ponders whether he will be there for her again when her past finally catches up to her.
Though the angst is at stratospheric levels, western romance readers will enjoy this tale. The story line is action-packed while the lead couple is a charming duet struggling with their respective pasts. Though the villain still lurks (for the sequels) and his motives seem stretched, readers will appreciate this novel and want to read Quince's tale, (see Elaine Barbieri's RENEGADE MOON).
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner