Folks are dropping like flies.

Wyoming Territory, 1888. Kellen Coltrane finds himself in the midst of a mystery when his train ride is interrupted by a stranger with a fatal knife wound.  Before he breathes his last, Nat Church asks Kellen to finish his journey to the Pennyroyal Saloon in Bitter Springs where he had accepted employment as a hired gun. When Kellen arrives he’s met by the hotel’s owner, Lorraine (Raine) Berry, who makes the erroneous assumption that Kellen is Church’s partner, and Kellen decides to continue the deception.

Why did Raine need to hire a gunman? I don’t want to say too much so as not to spoil, but there was a trial a few years back that convicted one of the sons of powerful ranch owner, and it seems that some of the jurors who convicted him are having fatal *accidents*. OK, so you know who the baddies are at the get go, but things aren’t all cut and dried and there’s plenty of other dirty dealing and secrets going on underneath the surface to keep you guessing. Not everyone is what they appear to be (that includes Kellen), and it’s up to our pair to put the pieces together and catch the baddies, plus taking time to fall in love (this is a romance novel after all).

This was great fun with a good solid mystery that kept me turning the pages until the very end – and that includes Kellen’s mysterious past (loved it!). I really like the way Goodman uses dialogue and characters to move the story along, instead of long-winded, lengthy paragraphs of oh-so-tedious inner analyzing. Kellen and Raine have good chemistry from the get go, but it is slow to build while they’re getting to know each other – and I loved their bantering as much as I did the romance:

Am I allowed to kiss you?”

“Only if you want frostbite.”

“I’ll take my chances.

Kellen was a serious dishy hunk of a hero, Raine was definitely more than another pretty female, but my hands down favorite characters who stole every scene were the two young scamps nicknamed Rabbit and Finn. Picture a pair of very young cowlicked Ronnie Howards running loose in town and you’ll know what I mean.

We saw him from our bedroom window on account Finn had to piss and didn’t want to use the privy.”

“Rabbit was trying to shut the window on my-”

Rain’s quelling look stopped Finn cold.

Lol, and those boys were everywhere and into everything. This was a solid four-star read for me, but I’m tacking on an extra half star for the awesome finish as well as the big reveal on Kellen’s secret past. I loved every page. 4.5/5 stars.

Book source: library loan.