What really sets McCarty's stories apart from simple erotica is the complexity of her characters and conflicts. The third installment of her Hell's Eight series is historically accurate -- from the racist attitudes of the time to the speech patterns of the heroine -- and definitely spicy, but it's a great love story too.

Widowed nurse Sally Mae Schermerhorn is a Quaker, and a very virtuous woman. But that doesn't stop her from noticing how attractive Texas Ranger Tucker McCade is, or from indulging in fantasies about making love with him. Tucker's assignment is to watch over Sally, not to take her to bed, but he can't help himself once he realizes she shares his interest.

What's supposed to be a brief affair flares unexpectedly into something much more, but things get complicated when Sally becomes pregnant. None of the locals will accept their relationship because Tucker is half-Indian, and pacifist Sally is afraid that there's no place for her where Tucker lives -- at Hell's Eight, with his brothers-at-arms. (SPICE, Oct., 336 pp., $13.95)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer