Schoolmarm Eden Devlin was too tall and too doggone smart. Most men in Sweetwater wouldn't tangle with her. Until Burke Kerrigan rode into town. Big, hard, and handsome, he wore a pair of six-guns and a bold, lazy smile. He came to settle the war between the nesters and the ranchers, but soon had another challenge on his hands. Both sides in Sweetwater's violent dispute wanted the meddling Miss Devlin taught a thing or two. Simple seduction seemed the perfect lesson. But Kerrigan didnt' count on the fire beneath the brains and innocence. And Miss Devlin? She found a blazing passion that promised happiness beyond her wildest expectations - and a love that might break her heart.
Johnston's ( Comanche Woman ) version of an Old West romance between a prissy schoolmarm and a jaded gunslinger is well paced and seldom takes itself seriously, the result being a palatable if unoriginal tale. It's 1880 in the Wyoming Territory, and the little town of Sweetwater is up in arms: the ranchers claim the farmers are rustling cattle and the farmers say the ranchers are destroying farm fences. Exasperated by these apparently insoluble problems, the town's ladies--prompted by the schoolteacher, Eden Devlin--adopt a scheme from the ancient Greek play Lysistrata: until the men abandon the hostilities, the women will abandon their husbands' beds. The ranchers bring in hired gun Burke Kerrigan to nab the rustlers. Irked by their wives' blackmail, they offer Burke an additional thousand dollars to seduce the meddling Miss Devlin. Burke's investigations ultimately reveal that appearances can deceive: a handful of Sweetwater's inhabitants aren't quite what they seem. Burke turns out to be more of a gentleman than he himself suspected, and Eden isn't nearly as starchy as she lets on. (Jan.)