Bonner's beguiling first novel--about love between a hard- working farm girl and an outlaw in 1883 Texas--manages to be thoroughly romantic without romanticizing violence: a wonderful evocation of time and place and the voice of a strong, hopeful 15- year-old girl. Lily DeLony never meant to go wrong. Why, she wonders, did she have to be different from all the other decent people in town, and be able to see the good in Marion Beatty instead of just the bad? She was maybe more vulnerable than most--motherless and overloaded with endless responsibilities, with no softness or comfort in a hardscrabble life--but Lily is no one's victim or fool. She is moved not just by Marion's charm, good looks, and their stolen kisses but by his own terrible situation: the small town of McDade judges the whole Beatty family no good; Marion has been condemned for his wild older brothers' sins. Not only that: the Beattys get blamed for every violent crime that takes place in the country, even when Lily knows for a fact--or close to it--that they are being falsely accused. As she watches virtuous people, including her father, step over all moral lines in acts of vigilante violence, Lily takes Marion's part. By the time she finds she's been overly optimistic about his innocence, Lily has bit by bit given up old ideas of right and wrong and is committed to her outlaw for better or worse. Even readers who don't approve of Lily's love-choice will cheer for her all the way.