Dear Ms Bechko,
I grew up watching “Gunsmoke,” “The Big Valley” and other westerns on TV, and my love of that genre is actually what led me back to reading romance books 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve read some great ones and (in the beginning before I learned to avoid certain authors) slogged through some terrible ones. Your book is one of the better I’ve read in a while.
Bank teller Amanda Cleary and cowboy Jake Hollander find themselves on the run from the law after breaking out of jail. Falsely accused of bank robbing and murder, they’ve been tried, convicted and sentenced to hang. Considering they’d never even seen each other until late that afternoon, their relationship is moving along in high gear. Amanda is horrified but determined not to die for something she didn’t do while Jake is disgusted to have been caught up in what’s obviously a preplanned crime involving the town banker. He’s not too keen on having to lug Amanda along either but in all fairness he can’t leave her behind. Some men might fall at the young beauty’s feet but all Jake can see is that her looks will be a serious liability as they attempt to evade the posse after them.
But Amanda surprises Jake. She’s intelligent, watches closely, learns quickly and swiftly proves herself as they hide out in the rugged Arizona wilderness. Both want to see their names cleared, the stolen money recovered and the real thieves brought to justice. But they also know that they might not ever be able to prove their innocence and could end up living out their lives under assumed names in far distant territories. With the odds against them, they set out to track the robbers through the unforgiving land and reclaim their own freedom.
This is not true romance but more a western with romance overtones. Sure some emotions were sacrificed but I didn’t have to worry about moments of inappropriate lust. Thank God.
I really liked the heroine. Amanda is a strong woman thrown into totally new situation but she watched and learned and got better. There were no cutesy moments added where she screwed up in say, target practice, just to add sexual tension while hero took her in his arms to “teach” her. This was deadly serious survival and you had them treat it that way. Thank God.
I enjoyed that hero thinks she’s pretty but he’s more (rightly) worried that her beauty will make her more memorable and lessen their chances of escape. And what ends up impressing him about her is her grit, determination and that she doesn’t complain no matter how hard the trail gets. I also like that they have enough common sense to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.
From the description given at Fictionwise, I decided this would either be a winner or a sorry loser. I’m glad to took the gamble and hope to see more books from you in the future. B for “To Hell and Back.”