This book is a compilation of four short stories. Having never read anything by this author I was pleasantly surprised. Of the four stories, my two favorite were “Amarillo by Morning” and “The Outlaw”. In “Amarillo by Morning”, rancher Hank Harris is invited to dinner along with a few other eligible bachelors. Aggie’s married sister Dolly is looking for potential husbands for Aggie. Aggie is very beautiful not eager to accept any of the men who are attracted to her based solely on her looks. Hank had no greater expectations going to Dolly’s other than getting a good meal. Just when it looks like Aggie will be a no-show and Hank steps outside, she strikes up a conversation with him from the safety and hiding spot near a window. She vents her frustration at being a “traveling sideshow” being passed from sister to sister with them trying to pawn her off on some man. She is not excited about the idea of marriage and everything it entails for a woman. She tells Hank how she used to help her father in his gunsmith workshop. Hank then asks her if she’d marry someone if it was a true partnership.
“Just two partners sharing the same house. Both bring in what they can as far as money goes. Both respecting the other’s privacy.”
She asks him what would happen if the man went back on her word. He says that she should make him give her his guns as a promise. When she later is introduced to the other men and hears all their insincere promises and profuse flattery, Hank just gives her his guns and asks her to meet him by the train station if she wants to choose him. This love story was so sweet and sexy at the same time. I loved that Aggie was not just beautiful but was a gunsmith as well. And Hank was so caring and such a sweetie.
In “The Outlaw”, the heroine, Cozette, is in a desperate situation. She’s unmarried and pregnant. This circumstance causes her to make up a fictitious fiancé to avoid the wrath of her austere father. The opening of the story has her father on his deathbed, and Cozette waiting on her wedding day for a groom that she knows will never show up. She’s in even more of a bad spot because her father changed his will so that Cozette’s future husband, whoever he may be, will inherit the family ranch. Added to this mix is a dastardly uncle. Luckily for her, fate throws an outlaw into her path. However, Michael is not your typical bandit. He is actually an educated, gentle man who is just trying to make sure nothing happens to his bumbling uncles whom he loves. Cozette makes Michael a proposition – be her instant groom and she busts his uncles out of jail and send then on their way with the wedding gifts when her uncle is gone and the ranch can safely be hers. I loved this romance. Again – very sweet & very sexy. Michael is super caring toward Cozette and helps her a lot with the everyday workings of the ranch. I also liked Michael’s uncles & their bodyguard duty. They made me think of the three criminals from the film “We’re No Angels”.
I really enjoyed this book and will look for other books by this author.