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Book CoverSybil’s review of Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman
Historical Western Romance from Zebra 1 Sep 09

I often speak of my love of historical western romance, almost as much as I talk about how much I adore Jo Goodman’s books.  So when I hear the title of her next book was Never Love a Lawman – I squuee’ed.  Could she be really be writing a western?  Turns out that, yes, Jo Goodman was taking us to Reidsville, Colorado in September 1882.  Two of my favorite things were about to come together again, so of course, then I started to worry…

I tend to fall into that trap, where you want something so much, you expect the book to be great, grand and wonderful – it is almost unfair to the author. Who can live up to that? And I find I get annoyed at little things I wouldn’t normally because this is  “WONDERFUL AUTHOR”.

So when the ARC arrived for Never Love a Lawman, I rushed to read it and then stopped and worried. I admit it. Totally silly because at the end of the day, it is just a book and if I don’t like it ::shrug::. Jo Goodman isn’t going to be upset over it. Readers will still love it or hate it. But I was worried for me… I am selfish like that. Turns out I was worried over nothing…

Never Love a Lawman opens in complete confusion, the reader really doesn’t know what is going on or why, and this doesn’t become clear until later in the book.  It is handled wonderfully, if not frustratingly, and I might have been okay with that because I have faith in the author.  All you know is something is wrong, she has to leave, doesn’t want to go and someone in the bed doesn’t want her to go but knows she must.

We pick up with Rachel Bailey having been a member of the Reidsville community for about a year; she is a seamstress and keeps to herself.  I love her character.  And once again we are seeing her through someone else’s eyes.

This time it is the hero, Wyatt, who is keeping watch.  He is another one of Jo Goodman’s complex hero’s and is a mix of alpha, beta and a dash of whiskey to taste.  As sheriff he keeps a pretty close eye on the town, much closer than Miss Bailey gives him credit for and would often like.  The fact that he did it from the balcony of the town’s only whorehouse might have something to do with her drawing some of her conclusions as well.  It soon comes to play that there was rhyme and reason for Miss Baily to be ‘directed’ to Reidsville, Colorado.  And Wyatt turns out to be much more than Rachel first took him to be.

The pacing could be a bit slow for some readers, so do keep that in mind and do read at least two or three chapters before tossing this one aside. Because going in blind I would have tossed it with the prologue – well if it wasn’t a western and wasn’t Goodman.  This isn’t my favorite Goodman but would be my favorite American historical of her I have read, so far ;).

Jo Goodman is not a ‘fast read’ but a book to relax and enjoy.  She is a true wordsmith who is a pleasure to read and creates characters that are a joy to spend time with, along with a town that comes alive and becomes a character in and of itself.  It was a delight to learn her next book will take place in the same town because when I closed the book, I reread it, because I wasn’t ready to let go.

Sybil duckGrade: A


Rachel Bailey may seem like just a beautiful newcomer to most of Reidsville, Colorado, but Sheriff Wyatt Cooper knows she’s much more. Through a twist of fate, Rachel is the inheritor of a very valuable commodity: control of the railway that keeps the isolated mining town connected to the world. That is, she will be, if she agrees to the surprising stipulation in her benefactor’s will-that she marry Wyatt.

Rachel has no choice: refusing the marriage could put all of Reidsville in the hands of an outsider, and not just any outsider but the cruel tyrant she has come here to escape. Yet living with Wyatt will be her greatest challenge. For he has a tempting way about him that makes Rachel forget theirs is a marriage in name only- until her frightening past shows up to remind them exactly how much they have at stake…

Read an excerpt here.