When I began reading this book, I had no idea it’s related to The Last Renegade. I just wanted a good western, and I know Jo Goodman always delivers one. Something niggled in the back of my mind during the prologue, but it wasn’t until Finn, and then Rabbit, appeared on the pages that I knew I was back in Bitter Springs, Wyoming. It’s going to be a very long time before I forget these two brothers. They are stars in their own right in these books, and I sure hope Ms. Goodman either keeps writing about other characters in town so Finn and Rabbit can grow up or she just jumps ahead in time to give them their own books. After getting to know them, it would be such fun to see what kind of men they grow into. But I’m digressing right off the bat here. It’s Cobb and Tru’s book, and I’m happy to say I’m just as thrilled with them as I am those other scamps.
Tru Morrow is the new school teacher in Bitter Springs, having left Chicago behind when pushed to do so by “Aunt” Charlotte Mackey. Since her departure Tru has learned of Charlotte’s death and, while saddened, is happy in the new life her benefactor believed she could find. Cobb Bridger is passing through, or so he says, and Tru finds him intriguing. She also thinks he’s the perfect candidate for town marshall, despite all his protestations.
Cobb is actually a private detective working for Andrew Mackey, Charlotte’s grandson. Andrew has accused Tru of theft, though he won’t tell Cobb what she’s supposedly taken from the Mackey family. His job is just to find her. But after getting to know Tru, something just doesn’t add up for Cobb and he decides to stick around town – to get to the bottom of this mystery and also to be near Tru.
I love these characters to death. Their banter from beginning to end is engaging, and you can see the subtle changes as they go from acquaintances to friends to lovers, when the rapport only gets better once they become intimate. Also very enjoyable is their straightforwardness and honesty with one another, especially during lovemaking. They’re a fresh breath of air in the bedroom. Even once Cobb confesses his original task when he arrived in Bitter Springs, Tru is, of course, upset at that news, but she doesn’t pitch a fit or storm out or any such usual things you expect from a woman in romance. She goes about her business, all the while thinking it through, looking at both sides and coming to her own brand of solution.
Tru also confesses her secret having to do with the Mackeys, giving her and Cobb a new look at what Andrew wants with her, which helps tremendously when the man shows up in town. I have to admit I didn’t see his turnaround coming until seconds before it happens. Tru warned me, however; she has panic-lessening calm that saves her time and again. And Ms. Goodman has a canny way of distracting the reader to deliver a villain you don’t expect.
Then, naturally, comes Finn and Rabbit. I’m able to see their growth in this book from the last, but those competitive, boys-will-be-boys ways do crop up once or twice. They’re still into trouble and they still know everything that goes in Bitter Springs. Most of all, though, they’re just plain old fun, and I’m so very glad they have more page time in this story. ‘Course, since Tru is the school teacher, it only makes sense her students will be featured more. Thank goodness. All of the other secondary characters around town are wonderfully written. My favorites are Mrs. Sterling, the cook at the Pennyroyal Saloon and Hotel, and Mr. Collins, Finn and Rabbit’s grandfather and also the station master. I really would have liked to have seen Kellen and Raine from The Last Renegade, but it’s explained why they aren’t in town and we do get to catch up with what’s going on in their lives.
Ms. Goodman has that wonderful talent to write the perfect man of the West, be he cowboy or detective or anything else. Then she shows readers that knack at giving him the heroine who can hold her own, make her intelligence and strength sexy, and tame that man all in one fell swoop. When I’m in the mood for a western read, Jo Goodman is at the top of the list.
HE WAS ON THE HUNT FOR A RUNAWAY BEAUTY
“Find her” is the only instruction that private detective Cobb Bridger receives from Andrew Mackey. The scion of a wealthy Chicago family, Mackey is desperate to know the whereabouts of the woman who disappeared from his employ, taking with her something of great value. Intrigued as much by what Mackey won’t say about the missing item as he is by Mackey’s description of the missing woman, Cobb accepts the assignment.
AND THE ONE TRUE LIE THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH
Bitter Springs, Wyoming, has a new schoolteacher who may or may not be exactly what she seems. Upon making the acquaintance of Miss Tru Morrow, Cobb begins to question the guilt of this golden-haired lady—and the protective feelings she stirs in him. His investigation hinges on understanding where the truth lies.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: