Courtesy of CK2S Kwips and Kritiques
Wade Mason is in prison for a crime he did not commit. There is one witness to the real crime, Lily White, one of the local prostitutes, and she holds his freedom in the palm of her hand. But she is only willing to secure his freedom for a price, and when Wade refuses her offer, she leaves him there without a backward glance, but not before winding up pregnant. Wade swears he will prove his innocence, and later breaks out of prison.
Callie Quinn is a lone woman living on the outskirts of Purgatory, Texas. Her brother, Nathan, has gone off to California in the hopes of making his fortune in the gold mines. Her friend, Lily gave birth to a son, Matthew, and just before she died, entrusted him into Callie's care. Callie loves Matthew as her own and would do anything to protect the baby from harm. One night, as she is enjoying a brief respite in her bath from the baby's demands, she is startled to see the unkempt and frightening, in shackles no less, man standing in her cabin. Her first thought is to protect Matthew at any cost, even when the man reveals himself to be the father of that child.
Wade's plan had been to come to his friend Nathan Quinn for help in clearing his name, and to claim his baby. His plans take a side trip when he comes across Callie in her bath. Though his ultimate goals have not changed, his method of achieving them has. Callie is unsure of whether or not Wade is innocent of his alleged crime but one thing she is sure of is that no one is going to take Matthew away from her, even his very own father!
Wade and Callie form an unlikely alliance in the hopes of proving Wade's innocence, with one common goal, to do what is best for little Matthew. Unfortunately their views on that differ. But the more time they spend together, the more they realize Wade's salvation, and Callie's desires to protect herself and the baby, lie in each other. The only way to reach their seemingly unattainable goals is in freeing Wade of the stigma as murderer following him.
Ms. Betts has proven her growing talent for writing passionate tales of life and love in the Old West. Her characters are skillfully rendered, taking on a life and vigor all their own. Richly detailed, this story is one that is sure to delight old fans, and bring in new ones as well. Each successive book in this series, also adds a little more background on the town of Purgatory, making this world all the more believable.
Callie and Wade are a match made in heaven, or in this case, Purgatory. Callie has strength of her own, built from laboring to take care of a homestead and a baby, all by herself. Wade is a man of pride, stung by the life he has been forced into the past few years, bound to proving his innocence and his honor. Sparks and tempers fly from the moment these two meet, as they argue over what is best for Matthew. One thing is never in doubt throughout the story, and that is that both of them have what is best for the child they both love.
If a reader wants fascinating tales of life in the Old West, Ms. Betts books are the ones to read!
© Kelley A. Hartsell, March 2003. All rights reserved.