When bounty hunter Jack 'Skull' gets off the train in Abilene with his prisoner, he looks straight into the blue eyes of Anne Ross. And from that moment on, his life is changed. He’s walked into a town that despises him and what he does, even though he’s one of the few who realizes the threat that hangs over the young single women of Abilene. Young, beautiful, single women – like Anne Ross. No matter that Anne has a beau. No matter than the town regards him with less affection than they would a stampede of mad cattle. Nothing matters to Jack Scullard but Anne Ross.
And Anne? Well, she’s swept clean off her feet and into a screaming need to kiss this handsome harsh devil of a man. And so the story unfolds, rich in texture and character, and thrilling in plot development. I can’t, however, totally recommend this story, excellent though it is.
Sadly, Anne Ross is a victim. Not of abuse, but of her circumstances. She’s been raised to follow orders. To depend on others for her opinions and her actions. And it just goes on for too darn long. I kept waiting for her to stand up for herself, and indeed her love for Jack helps her do just that, but it comes so late in the novel, that I had a hard time reaching that point. It was Jack who kept me spellbound as he unwrapped his tightly maintained image and let Anne find the man beneath. Such growth is the stuff of which classic novels are made, and if Anne could have matched him, this surely would have been among my top picks of the year. I continue to love anything by Claudia Dain, but would encourage readers to try a couple of her other books first. There you’ll find women who really do match their men – and who really fill out the pages.