Mysterious, devious and gorgeous, Montana Rose was known on the gambling circuit as the Queen of the Mississippi riverboats. Equally cunning and rakishly handsome, Michael Tarrington was determined to become the one man who could call her bluff.
Her husband's death during the Civil War left Amanda Courtland a teenaged widow. Now, in the aftermath of the war, she watches her brother break his back daily in the cotton fields, trying to save their once magnificent Mississippi plantation from being repossessed by the unscrupulous Yankee, E. Forrest Wainright, to whom they owe what seems like a fortune. In desperation, genteel Amanda adopts the persona of flamboyant Montana Rose and tries to raise the necessary funds through gambling. On the brink of success, she loses all her winnings to another unscrupulous Yankee, the dashing but devilish Michael Tarrington. Now even more desperate, Amanda agrees to elope with the caddish Wainright, who promises to forgive her family's debt if she'll become his wife. But before she can, Tarrington spirits her away and makes the same offer, insisting that she'll enjoy it a lot more with him. Against her better judgment, Amanda does find Michael irresistibly attractive and consents, but North-South politics, Amanda's scheming twin sister and the villainous Wainright all create tensions and misunderstandings between the newlyweds. Canham's (In the Shadow of Midnight) latest is deftly plotted, and Amanda is sympathetic, if a bit insipid, while Michael is engagingly complex. But secondary characters are flat and stereotypical, and readers who dislike excessive violence will find the concluding chapters disturbing. (May)