KING OF HEARTS
Wade McCord might look like a washed up gambler, but the U.S. Marshall needs to infiltrate the Bardells' gang and bring them in for justice. His plan doesn't include stagecoach station manager Lottie Hammond.When an exhausted Wade falls at Lottie's feet she tends the stranger and accepts his offer to work off his dinner.
Lottie has worked hard to build her reputation and care for her niece and nephew when their father, Ambrose Bardell, is "working." He might be an outlaw, but he's a good dad. But as Wade develops a powerful attraction to Lottie, he wonders how he can bring her brother-in-law to the hangman.
Pat Pritchard brings a fresh approach to a fast-paced and realistic western by creating engaging characters and taking a villain, Bardell, and turning him into a hero you'll adore. The conflict between the lovers is real and as powerful as their desire, while it's easy to be pulled into their dilemma over where to place their loyalties. Ms. Pritchard has a bright future ahead. SENSUAL (Aug., 320 pp., $5.99)