by Shannah Biondine

Re-release July 2003
ISBN: 1-55404-068-X
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Hell's Belle has a little bit of everything you expect from a historical western romance. There was a touch of comedy, a lot of rough-around-the-edges cowboys, a variety cast of characters, good guys and villains, and, of course, an endearing romance. The western 'atmosphere' was very up front in the story, and the characters were all well portrayed.

It takes place in Nevada in 1870, and starts off with the scene of the hero Del Mitchell in church reading a 'Dear John' letter from his fiancÚ who has left him at the alter to run off with another man. Del does what most typical cowboys in that era and in that situation would do. He goes to the saloon and drinks himself into a stupor.

The heroine, Twila Bell arrives in town with her Uncle Fletcher and cousin Lucius and they set up shop. Fletcher calls his niece the 'human hex', the 'family curse', and the one and only 'Hell's Belle' because bad luck always seems to happen around her. When little events start happening, cousin Lucius starts spreading the rumor that she's cursed and it doesn't take long for the town to start believing she's a witch. The church has even labeled her a 'Jonah'. Twila is just naturally clumsy and she prefers to let everyone think the worse because they stay clear of her. She's hiding a valuable necklace she accidentally took when there was a bag mix up on the train, and wants to get it safely back to its rightful owner.

Through one of the mishaps, Del and Twila meet. When he first sees her, marriage is the last thing on Del's mind because he's still smarting from being left at the altar. Still, he doesn't like the way her uncle treats her. And though he doesn't believe in all the rumors that she's cursed, he believes she has 'bewitching eyes'.

This is a wonderful love story about two people who learn to trust and believe in love through growth of character. Del and Twila both come to realize just how precious their love is, and how blessed they are to have each other. The ending gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling you look for at the end of a particularly endearing romance story.

Reviewed in December 2001 by Kari.

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