Zebra, May 2004, 5.99
In 1870 Mary Costner accompanied by her brother Billy has proof that she owns a gold mine in Gregory Gulch near Pikes Peak. Her “partner” Big Jim McCoy is stunned not just because he feels someone is trying to steal his claim, but that someone is a female. The Marshal informs both that each has a share. Mary tells Jim that she will dress like a man and work as hard as or even harder than him as Billy leaves town.
Two years pass and things seem relatively smooth until one day Mary awakens holding a bloody knife near her dead partner. She foolishly flees into a horrific snowstorm, but is rescued by Marshal Carter Monroe, who takes her into his home. While he believes she has amnesia, he investigates Big Jim's murder expecting a link to the killing of his sister. As Carter and Mary fall in love, an unknown assailant abducts her, forcing the Marshal to decide between love and revenge. If he chooses the former, he might die, if he chooses the latter she might die.
Fans of western romantic suspense will appreciate this deep tale of love vs. vengeance. The crisp story line is vividly descriptive (my hands remain cold from the storm) so that the audience obtains a taste of Reconstruction Era Colorado yet still provides plenty of intrigue. Though the amnesia ploy feels ancient, the lead couple is a delightful pairing who keeps the ruse fresh as both struggles with unwanted love when each has a secret that they respectively believe would end any relationship between them.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner