Typical Western elements combine with the breathy emotions of a traditional romance in this sequel to Grace and the Guiltless (2014).
Now a bounty hunter, Grace has had some success but is frequently so sidetracked by her emotional connection to Joe that she can’t quite remember that she is bent on revenge for the ruthless killing of her family. There’s plenty to keep her busy in this section of the Arizona desert. Grace encounters rapists and tries to protect a widow and her young daughter when a train robbery seems in the offing. She is also moved to try to help a Ndeh friend whose father wants her to marry against her decided preference. But Joe is paramount in her thoughts. The fast pacing is as predictable as the prose: “Safe in his encircling arms, she laid her head on his chest, feeling the rapid beat of his heart.” Grace’s struggle to stay focused on the outlaws while she would prefer to swoon with Joe undermines her portrayal as an otherwise strong, capable, and independent female. A third book is indicated, as Grace and Joe’s hot moments are cut short and evil outlaws are still at large. Despite the forced-marriage subplot, Johnson pays less attention to the Ndeh tribe of the Apache nation that featured prominently in the first book and much more to the bad guys.
A shoot-’em-up with more smooching than shooting. (Western. 14-18)