This book is probably more of a 3 1/2 star rating in my estimation. However, it is refreshing to read a newly written Western romance novel by a promising, new author.
Christopher Braddock, the hero of this western, is a bounty hunter during the years following the Civil War. He is looking for a gang of robbers that recently killed while robbing a stage coach. He is particularly pursuing young Corey Sullivan, hoping that once he finds Corey, he can be convinced to tell Braddock about the leader of the gang - his true prey.
When Braddock finds Corey in the opening pages of the book, it is at Corey's New Mexico ranch. Corey's sister, Lorelei, our heroine, has just arrived from the East to make a new life with her brother. Lorelei confronts Braddock and makes certain he does not find Corey. She believes that Corey is innocent and tells Braddock the same. Thus the stage is set for the beginning of Braddock's and Lorelei's romance.
This book captivates you within the first few pages. It is an enjoyable story that keeps rolling. We have the hero swearing he will never love and he lets the heroine know that in the beginning, halfway through the book, and several other times. I guess he reasons it is okay to pursue Lorelei if she understands that whatever happens between them - it is just for today. Lorelei is hurting from the loss of her fiance back east and finds herself drawn to Braddock although she realizes that he is not the type to ever settle down with her.
Lorelei is a very likable, sweet, and genuine character. Her devotion to her possible outlaw brother is deep and she foolishly risks her life, Braddock's life, and Corey's life more than once attempting to protect her little brother. Braddock is a very interesting character, sexy, and I enjoyed being in his mind - seeing things through his eyes. You come to really like both the hero and heroine in this story.
Corey, conversely, is a real brat. He was, on one hand, very selfish, and on the other hand, very protective of his sister. He can see when someone else could hurt her or expose her to danger but has a difficult time seeing that he does so himself repeatedly. Usually, I don't enjoy secondary characters much. But Corey is a stinker and at the same time, has real spunk. He was so mean and ornery to Braddock, standing up for his sister, that it was actually amusing. I guess it is mostly a love/hate relationship that the reader most experiences with Corey.
Although Braddock and Lorelei are likable and you can understand their mutual attraction, their relationship fell a little into the Blah category. I believe this is partly due to the fact that both leads believed their relationship was only for the moment with absolutely no future. I know this is an overused plot line in romance novels but it seemed to have more of an impact in this story. Possibly it is that we see both Lorelei's and Braddock's vulnerability. The sensual scenes between the two rate about a four out of five (see More About Me for rating guidelines)and were placed well within the story.
Another reason this book fell short of a higher rating is that it is written as a romance novel but little time is spent on the actual romance. The personal time, between the leads, fill few pages. There are satisfying scenes between the two but this book spends a lot of time with or on secondary characters. Although all of the parameters are there for romance writing, this comes off more as a historical novel.
I liked the characters and saw that the relationship between the leads had great potential. Somehow, it just didn't live up to a great romance. It is not one I will keep to read again although it did have many great moments. I look forward to future books by this new author.