by Millie Criswell

February 2001
ISBN: 0-446-60415-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Warner Books

Autumn 1879

Rafe Bodine, an ex-Texas Ranger, has made plenty of enemies in his lifetime. When 4 outlaws kill his wife and unborn child for revenge, Rafe swears to avenge their lives. This oath takes him on a trail from Texas to Wyoming in pursuit of the murderers. On that trail, he meets Emmaline St. Joseph. Emma is on her way west with 5 homeless children to open an orphanage when she is stranded by a broken down carriage. Emma is an intelligent woman, who can organize a dinner party for 300 people and write moving poetry, but she has no idea how to take care of 5 children on her own and survive in the wild. The last thing Rafe needs is a woman and children to be bothered by but he is an honorable man and can't leave them in the middle of nowhere with no food or shelter so he agrees to help Emma and the children make it safely to the next town.

Rafe knows he is in danger of losing his life from not only the vicious outlaws but also his own brother, Ethan, a Texas Ranger, who is forced to try to bring Rafe in for murder charges. But what Rafe isn't prepared for, is losing his heart to the children and Emma since he has sworn never to put another person in danger by being close to him.

This is the first book I have ever read by Millie Criswell and Desperate is the first of 3 books in a series. There is just enough information revealed about Rafe's brother, Ethan, in Desperate to whet your appetitive the next book Dangerous. Also, Criswell leaves several issues unresolved in Desperate to further entice you to read the next book in the series.

If I had to only use one word to describe this novel, it would be "sweet". It's a heartwarming story and being a mother, I'm always a sucker for a plot involving children. However, I thought the sex scenes were rather lukewarm and there wasn't much tension involved. Never at any point in the story was I surprised at the turn of events or wondering what might happen next. Desperate has plenty of adventure and escapades since most of the story takes place on the run, but what really stands out are the relationships that develop between Emma and Rafe and between Emma, Rafe and the children and that is what makes Desperate a romance worth reading.

Reviewed in August 2001 by Nicole.

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