This emotionally intense, dramatic, unforgettable novel presents readers with an indelible portrait of the people, the untamed land and the harsh realities of life in the West. Yet Penelope Williamson tells her tale with passion, larger-than-life events and a deep understanding of the human spirit and the redeeming power of love, making this an uplifting novel.

Rachel Yoder is a Plain (Amish) woman; a widow with a son and a sheep ranch who still grieves over her young husband's death at the hands of the cattlemen. One icy cold night, a stranger wanders onto her land, in danger of bleeding to death from a bullet wound. Rachel cannot turn him away and nurses the man with the gunbelt back to health. Johnny Cain is a man-killer, a gunslinger who has lost his conscience years ago. Still, something about this beautiful Plain woman compels Johnny to stay and help with the sheep and bring a light of laughter into Rachel's eyes.

Rachel knows what Johnny is, but she has always been a little rebellious. She knows that by allowing him to stay, she is asking for trouble, yet she cannot help falling in love with him after she sees his gentle, caring side as he works with her son and the sheep. This woman of peace and man of violence have been brought together to forge a new life and to face the challenges of the future while opening their souls to love's healing light.

Rachel and Johnny make a journey from loss to triumph, from despair to redemption, taking the reader and a unique cast of secondary characters along with them. Ms. Williamson's talents reach new and more stunning heights in this remarkable stale. SWEET (July, 464 pp., $22.50)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin