Charlene Sands





Harlequin Historical, February 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding

After the death of her mother, Kate Malone returns to Crystal Creek, the small California town where she grew up, to reopen the Silver Saddle Saloon. Kate's mother, Louisa, dreamed of returning to reopen the saloon she left behind after a fire destroyed the business she had inherited from her father. Kate's dream of restarting the family business, closed for almost six years, is not welcome news to the citizens of Crystal Creek, especially Cole Bradshaw, the sheriff and the young man she cared for as a girl.

Cole Bradshaw is attracted to the beautiful and determined Kate but his personal feelings toward her are in direct conflict with the new city ordinance that stipulates no new business can be opened without approval from the Crystal Creek city council. The new ordinance creates a dilemma for Cole: if Kate succeeds in reopening the saloon he will be forced to arrest the woman whose heart he wants to win. Cole wants a wife and a good woman to help raise his brother's little girl, Meggie, who was orphaned when her mother and father were killed by The Sloan Brothers Gang. But would a woman who runs a saloon be the kind of wife he needs?

This is a sweet and simply told tale of a woman fighting for herself in a time period when women had few choices. The passionate relationship that develops between Cole and Kate isn't enough to bring these two together. Cole is a man who must choose between conforming to the pressures of his culture or accepting the free-spirited woman he loves. Kate must find a way to outmaneuver the city ordinance, overcome the opposition she faces from the town of Crystal Creek and win the respect of the man she loves.

This novel has all the appeal of the much loved television series "Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman". The characters are delightful, especially little Meggie. However, this novel would be an overly idyllic story except for the threat of the Sloan outlaw. It is beautifully written by a talented writer who has created a heartwarming tale.


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