After six months in the big city, Jess Porterfield has to find his place in his small hometown, so accepting the position of marshal seems like a good way to prove himself, especially when the woman he loves is threatened by a powerful enemy.
Jess isn't proud of the fact that he left his family just when they needed him most, right after the death of his father, when the town’s detested Tipton brothers, Jasper and Buck, were trying to take over their ranch. Restless and grieving, Jess made plans to leave for Kansas City and asked Addie Wilcox, the woman he wanted to marry, to come with him, but she refused. Six months away was enough to make Jess realize how much he missed his family and his girl, but in coming back, he’s stunned to learn that his sister has solved many of the crises that had overwhelmed him. Addie is angry and hurt, which isn’t completely surprising, but disturbingly, Buck Tipton has his sights on her. Plus there are rumors flying that his father was murdered by the Tiptons, even though another man has been charged with the crime—the former marshal. Since the position is open, Jess throws his hat in the ring and is hired, then begins to earn the town’s trust with his levelheaded problem-solving. However, things take a serious turn when Jasper Tipton’s wife, Pearl, turns up dead, and Buck accuses Addie of murdering her. Dragged to Tucson and thrown into a horrible jail, Addie champions better conditions for the prisoners even as Jess has to figure out how to save her from hanging and convince her he loves her. Despite some intriguing historical details, the writing is uninspired, and many of the characters’ choices are annoying or too easy—Addie’s day-to-day seesaw feelings toward Jess, her overdramatic “confession” regarding Pearl, Buck’s drunken admission to his brother that exonerates her, etc.—ultimately dragging down the pace and overall solidity of the book.