As always, St. John portrays the west realistically and romantically. Her appealing characters keep the plot moving and her readers awaiting the predestined happy ending.

Sophia Hollis, or Gabriella to the people she's conned, plans to stay in town just long enough to evade the man hunting her. But "the life" no longer appeals to her, and the good people of Newton -- especially Marshal Clay Conner -- make her want to change her ways permanently. Clay has a good life, and Sophia seems like the woman who will make it perfect. But trouble comes when his jail burns to the ground and his lawman's instincts lead him to suspect a newcomer of being more than what he seems.

Refusing to be crushed by her shameful past, Sophia puts her trust in her newfound love, and together she and Clay devise a plan that will gain her victory over the man from her past. What she isn't certain of is her future, for her crimes mean she'll go to jail unless there's one more good surprise in her past than she realizes. (Harlequin, Feb., 300 pp., $5.50)
Reviewed by: 
Anne Black