Madeline Baker writes of a ghost, a curse and a second chance with such power and passion readers cannot help but be mesmerized. Unfortunately, while the first half of the book seems like a fantastic western rewrite of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," the rest goes off on a different tangent and confuses the reader.

During the 1870's a mob, in the spirit of frontier justice, condemns "the fastest gun in the west" to death. With his dying breath, and the noose tightening around his neck, Dalton Crowkiller curses the Conley family. One hundred twenty-five years later, Kathy Conley inherits the Montana ranch, along with Dalton's ghost, from her late husband.

Dalton tries to scare her off, but she is not easily frightened. Since she is also the only one able to see him, they call a truce and slowly become friends.

One night, to overcome her depression and his restlessness, they decide to write a book about Dalton's past as a half-breed gunfighter. Friendship turns to desire, but they cannot consummate their love until a shared wish transports them in time and gives Dalton a second chance.

With Kathy by his side, he evades the woman who caused his hanging. Instead, they journey to his father's Sioux village where he has a vision. Soon their idyllic paradise is shattered by a cavalry raid. They escape, traveling to Boston to visit his mother, but destiny leads them back to Montana and that fateful tree.

(June, 400 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Maria C. Ferrer