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by Jodi Thomas

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-425-25074-7
Publisher: Berkley

Just minutes after discovering her fiance is the last person she wants to marry, Beth McMurray survives a train crash through the brave actions of a shadowy character who might be an outlaw; claiming she’s married to him seems the best way to save them both.

Sneaking off her family’s Texas ranch to marry her fiance early sounds like a fine idea, until Beth boards the train disguised as a man and listens as the senator brags about landing the wealthy heiress and lays out his plans to get Beth and her fortune under his thumb. Planning to quietly head back home once the train reaches Dallas, she retreats to the rail car where her horse is stalled and witnesses a group of men breach the train, obviously intent on robbery. Unfortunately, the train jumps the tracks, but one of the men grabs Beth and propels them both clear of the wreckage, bearing the brunt of a hard landing and falling unconscious. When he wakes up in the hospital with only vague memories of the incident, writer Andrew McLaughlin follows Beth’s lead and supports her story that they are married, which proves to be important, since the senator has caught sight of Beth and is trying to get her under his influence. A young woman traveling alone in Texas in 1879 has few rights, and Andrew quickly understands that the senator does not have Beth’s best interests at heart. However, other odd events are going on at the hospital, and when Beth and Andrew leave, they have assembled an entourage of vulnerable souls that they take with them, first to Fort Worth and then on to Beth’s family’s ranch. They’ve also created enemies, and Andrew is distrustful of love—two major obstacles in their winding road to happily-ever-after. The novel has a lot going on and keeps readers engaged and entertained despite a few elements that strain suspension of disbelief (including the ridiculously idiotic senator). 

Though flawed, a generally fun adventure.