He’s got a job to do
Former army cavalryman Quill McKenna takes pride in protecting the most powerful man in Stonechurch, Colorado: Mr. Ramsey Stonechurch himself. But the mine owner has enemies, and after several threats on his life, mines, and family, Quill decides to hire someone to help guard the boss’s daughter. Only problem is the uncontrollable attraction he feels toward the fiery-haired woman who takes the job.
but she’s a piece of work.
Calico Nash has more knowledge of scouting and shooting than cross-stitching, but she agrees to pose as Ann’s private tutor while protecting her. But between her growing attraction to Quill and the escalating threats against the Stonechurches, Calico will soon have a choice to makehang on to her hard-won independence or put her faith in Quill to create the kind of happy ending she never imagined.
Dear Ms. Goodman,
It seems like Westerns might be making a small comeback as settings for romance books. Or maybe I’m just finally noticing them again. Whichever it is, I, for one, am happy to see that since when I started reading romance again, this was my “go to” era. From what I can tell, this book isn’t tied into any of your other series (correction please, if I’m wrong) so it’s a good place for new readers (sort of like me) to start.
The action is raring to go from the start. Setting: a brothel. Characters: one sensual woman, one bad villain and an innocent “I’m just here to relax” man. Quill’s confused and I’m confused but he’s determined to see what’s going to happen and willing to go with the flow and I’m laughing out loud as the scene unfolds. Add some whiskey, some rope, some guns, two villainous sidekicks, a little violence and justice is finally done. Calico has a wonderful, deadpan sense of humor and cuts Quill no slack at all. She’s also handy with a gun and not afraid to use it.
A long time family friend of Calico’s fills Quill in on her unconventional background as the daughter of an Army scout who was given a Henry repeating rifle for her tenth birthday and who can track a man as well as any bounty hunter in the west. Calico doesn’t suffer fools gladly, has little use for feminine furbelows and takes pride in her work. Quill is intrigued but has other duties which call him back to work. When he realizes that Calico would be perfect for a job, he quickly recommends her and doesn’t bother to deny his own anticipation at seeing her again. One thing I like about Quill is that, right from the start, he admires Calico just as she is.
At this point the story becomes a “hold your breath” kind of book. It starts so well that I almost don’t want to keep reading it in case it slows or falters. On the other hand, I can’t not continue because it’s so good. It’s got wonderful, wry, sharp banter and intelligent people and I haven’t rolled my eyes once.
The external conflict action slows a bit here in favor of more character development but I’m enjoying that so much that it doesn’t bother me at this 1/3 point. Calico and Ann are both strong willed women of whom their menfolk are more than a bit leery. It was fun watching the men step carefully around them.
Quill and Calico slow down, gently explore then settle into their relationship. For Calico it takes a while for the lightning to hit her. Even after sex, she isn’t dreaming of a life together or thinking of hanging up her guns. Quill’s declaration of when he fell for her is moving in its simplicity and directness and totally honest. He is a man who admires her for who she is and for the strengths, and quirks, that she has. The sex scenes truly seemed to be there to show growth in their feelings and not merely gratuitous.
As with the previous book of yours I read “In Want of a Wife,” this one has different “sections.” The villains introduced in the first chapter are brought back in when the outside conflict action heats up. Readers looking for more leisurely characterization and dialog are the ones who will probably enjoy this most though there is plenty of drama and danger at the end. The lingering issues slowly hinted at over the course of the book are brought to fruition and there are several new PsoV as the threads all tie in together. I did wonder how two characters arrived on the scene and whether or not it was by plan or merely chance. I will admit that the identity of the ultimate villain was fairly obvious and I guessed it almost from the start. Nevertheless, as Quill and Calico deliver justice, it offers him a great time to make his initial proposal and her to accept it.
He sighed, shook his head. Once he was in the stairwell and out of sight, he said, “Do not expect this accommodation when we’re married.”
She smiled. “Consider me warned.” She yanked up the hem of her shift and shoved her long legs into the drawers.
“You realize that was a proposal, don’t you?”
“You realize I accepted, don’t you?”
“Huh. That was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.”
Still, Calico wants a “pretty proposal” and since for Quill “She did not merely take his breath away; she made his heart trip over itself.” he’s determined to give her one. And boy, does he. I didn’t even mind the expositional epilogue because it had this.
“I’ve been thinking about that pretty proposal,” he said. “I have most of it worked out.”
“If you need someone to practice it on,” she said quietly, “I would not object to listening.”
“You understand it’s a work in progress.”
“I haven’t decided about kneeling. It seems—”
“I swear to God, Quill, I am going to get my gun.”
He chuckled, squeezed her shoulders. “And there you are, the woman who threatens me, challenges me, makes me laugh. Often all at once. I do not know how not to love you. You are clever, courageous. You humble me, and you lift me up. How can I not want you to be with me? I will take you in marriage if you will have me, but I will never leave you if you will not. You are as infuriating as you are interesting. You are never dull. I want to stand with you, and I want you to stand with me. You are my forever, Calico Nash.”