This is another book I got for my wife, because I felt the pistol-packing cowgirl on the cover would appeal to her, and then read on her recommendation. It’s even more of a departure from my usual reading fare, since it isn’t only a Western, but a paperback romance as well. Set mainly in Texas in 1877, the title refers to the heroine’s penchant for using disguise and deception in her work; she’s a bounty hunter with a reputation for bringing in her quarry alive. The leading male character is an ex-gunfighter recently turned rancher, who’s mistakenly accused of complicity in a bank robbery; she’s hired to bring him in alive.
Smith’s prose style could use polishing, and often lacks artistry; scenes often aren’t sketched with much sensory detail, and many of the characters are not sharply drawn. However, the plot moves with several inventive twists and turns that enhance reader interest, and Smith even incorporates a bit of mystery, in the hidden identity of the shadowy outlaw chieftain El Diabloto. (Astute readers will guess this early on –but trying to guess the solution to a mystery is part of its fun.) Cody and Luke are both appealing characters whom the reader can readily like and respect. Despite their human foibles (see the note below), to the extent that the book presents any moral messages, they’re generally wholesome ones, and even religious ones in places. One of our heroine’s guises is as a lady preacher; her preaching definitely presents a theistic and moral world-view, with a call to repentance and a recognition of the possibility of forgiveness and grace, and she has a positive effect on some characters’ lives. (Granted, to some degree she’s playing a role here –but it’s not a role that’s wholly foreign to her.) Western-style gun-fighting action isn’t pervasive in the book, but there’s some of it; and Cody will earn Luke’s recognition that she’s “good with a gun.”
Note: There are a couple of explicit unmarried sex scenes here, and a certain amount of bad language, of the h- and d-word type.
Author: Bobbi Smith
Publisher: Montlake Romance, available through Amazon, both for Kindle and as a printed book.
A version of this review previously appeared on Goodreads.