An unusual setting and colorful historical backdrop take Crooks' latest out of the usual western setting, but the author relies on stereotypical characters (the working-class immigrant girl, Italian anarchists, a Jewish sweatshop owner) to tell her story. There's nothing three-dimensional about either her characters or the story that live up to her usual fast-paced, lively western romances.

After discovering the woman he loved has married his father, Creed Sherman heads for Los Angeles and one last mission for the government. He walks straight into trouble when the shirtwaist factory where Gina Briganti works is burned by anarchists hoping to organize the workers and plotting to assassinate President McKinley.

Gina's innocence and sweetness capture Creed's heart. With her mother missing in the fire and her life in tatters, Creed is her only hope: the one trustworthy man in a world gone crazy. The tender love that blossoms between them enables Gina and Creed to put together the pieces of their lives and stop a ruthless plot to destroy the government. (Harlequin, Dec., 300 pp., $5.50)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin