Courtesy of CK2S Kwips and Kritiques
Regan Doyle is a young widow living in Purgatory, Texas with her mother-in-law, Martha. She is dedicated to Martha, feeling that is the least she can do in return for all the family did for her. She never tires of helping those in need, and never asks for anything in return. She hides her passionate nature under widow's weeds, only allowing it to surface in the form of her colorful and racy undergarments. Her only other devotion is to the local orphanage, Purgatory's Home for Unwanted Children. She is unable to have children of her own, so she dotes on the orphans, and will do anything for them, even if it means she must play Robin Hood, stealing goods from the rich folk in the town and donating the money anonymously to the orphanage.
Clayton Walker is a Texas Ranger who comes to Purgatory at the request of his Aunt Martha, to capture the burglar plaguing the town. He arrives, much to his dismay, sentenced to stay there until the crook is behind bars. What he doesn't expect is that no one in town, including the sheriff, who makes no secret of the fact he has no need or desire for Walker's assistance, seem especially concerned over the local thefts. Neither was he prepared for the beautiful young widow of his cousin, a beauty with flame-colored hair and tantalizing curves.
Regan guards her independence vehemently, having no wish to turn it over to anyone, no matter how appealing they might be. She is content to go about her life as she had been. Until one night, when out on one of her "missions," she overhears a murder! She can't reveal what she knows, certain it would reveal her secret life, sending her straight to the hangman's noose.
All the while, Regan and Walker grow closer to each other, unable to resist the temptation standing right in front of them. She is afraid to get too close though, unwilling to give up the freedom provided by her status as widow, and terrified of what he would do if he knew her secret. Now she has to make a choice, does she tell all to Walker, and get his help in resolving the mystery of who committed murder, risking her own neck when he realizes she is the very crook he has been sent to apprehend?
This debut story in Ms. Betts' Welcome to Purgatory series is a delight! She knows her historical facts, as is evident here. She showcases her brilliant use of humor and passion in this story, supplemented with a healthy dose of mystery. One is immediately drawn into the story, and is held enthralled right through to the very last page.
Each and every character is a pleasure, so wonderfully depicted. Regan shows a spunk all her own, and a passionate nature she keeps hidden under a demure facade. Walker is an honorable man, torn between his duty and his desire. When these two get together, fireworks are bound to erupt! The secondary characters were special as well, with Martha adding lightness to the tale, and the orphans (especially Hannah and David) giving even more depth to the storyline. Readers will be happy to know they get to visit again with some of the beloved characters here, in other books in the series.
Had this reviewer not already been a fan of Ms. Betts, this book would have changed that. If looking for a little adventure with your romance, this is the story to read. Kelley A. Hartsell, March 2003.