by Elizabeth Leigh

April 1997
ISBN: 0-8217-5632-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book when I started the first few pages. After all, a story that includes a heroine named “Crazy Bets” (who is supposedly completely nutty and holed up in her house with no one but an elderly servant to care for her) is not the most exciting start. But within the space of these first few chapters my attention was caught and I ended up completely engrossed in this fascinating romance.

Betsy is not, of course, crazy. And it doesn’t take Steele Montgomery long to figure it out. As a traveling preacher and would-be vigilante, he has to be observant and astute, and with Betsy, he’s both. He’s also very taken with her, and it doesn’t take too long for her to realize she feels something special for him.

Both these characters are products of the Civil War, which ended a few short years before the beginning of this book. The setting, Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, is just remote enough for seclusion, yet close enough to have suffered the depredations brought about by the War. Both Betsy and Steele are victims in their own way, today we might say that a case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder could well explain some of their behaviors.

But they are a nice pair of characters, warm and loving, and very human. They find a way to heal each other and themselves, and there is a wonderfully optimistic tone to this novel, which is a pleasant and welcome change from others where the savagery and pain of war carries over into the love story.

It’s not really a Western romance, nor a complex historical tale, but a little bit of both with some lovely Tennessee charm. Do try it if you’re in the mood for some uplifting and warm lovin’, laughin’ and shootin’.

Reviewed in September 2002 by Celia.

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