Driven to be an actress, Charlotte arrives in Tombstone, Arizona, just when the towns tempest in a teapot is about to boil over. Rough and tumble Tombstone is run by the wild Earp brothers. When Jake agrees to race his horse against Wyatt Earps, a battle begins between the two that escalates when Jake tries to help Charlotte.

Full of gumption, Charlotte does everything to get on stage; from working in saloons to finally being part of a theater company. She ignores Jakes kindness in favor of her career and loses many friends in the process.

As Tombstone is caught in the grip of fire, flood and gunfights, she and Jake are thrown together. It is Jake who realizes Charlottes potential as a horsewoman and teaches her to ride.

Jake and his horses become her salvation when life deals her a hard blow. Charlotte finally learns the fame she once craved comes with a high price and she must make a new and better life.

Far more western than romance, THE TOMBSTONE ROSEs appeal lies in its rich historical detail and fine portrait of the real and fictional characters in Tombstone. Ms. McKnight brings history to life with a strong touch of rough reality for those who want it real and dont shy away from violence. SENSUAL (May, 400 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin