by Cass Andre

November 2002
ISBN: 1-59088-153-2
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The title of this novel is somewhat misleading, given that the principals spend most of the story discovering exactly who they are. And learning that what they thought they wanted might not be what their hearts really desire.

Itís all about truths, hidden and obvious, and realizations, both painful and pleasurable. My hat is off to Ms. Andre for her uncompromising honesty with these characters. When we meet Dray Sloane, she is a cheatiní gambliní woman, and the only thing next to her heart is the stray ace tucked in her cleavage.

Isaac Stafford is far from perfect too, and when he comes to ďclaimĒ his brotherís children, heís surprised to find them under the less-than-protective wing of their late motherís sister, the same Dray Sloane. The twists and turns that take this story from combative to loving are engrossing. But donít expect to be treated to a predictable western romance. This is hard living, old west style.

Dray is not a nice character. Sheís tough, selfish, hides her vulnerability underneath a veneer of arrogance and hasnít a clue how to care for children. She rarely touches them. Itís a tribute to Ms. Andreís skillful writing that we care about what happens to her. Isaac fares much better, having the requisite hero characteristics. But heís victimized by Dray, albeit unintentionally, and becomes another pawn in a complicated set of lifeís ploys.

So if youíre ready to immerse yourself in an engrossing tale about real, honest-to-god people, warts and all, this is the book for you. Itís not so much a good read, as it is an enthralling experience, and I recommend it.

Reviewed in December 2002 by Celia.

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