Bartered Bride

Fortune's Fancy

The Highwayman's Daughter

Summer Fancy

 
The Lawman Takes A Wife
by Anne Avery
(Harl. Historical, $4.99, PG) ISBN # 0-373-29173-6
****
Sheriff Witt Gavin has two scandals in his past. He killed two men during a bank robbery. This created a reputation that prompts the town of Elk City to hire him. And worse, the Sheriff is divorced! Rumor has it he left his wife. In reality, Witt has a heart that needs to heal.

And who better to heal it than widow Molly Calhan, a mother of two and owner of the best general store in town? Under the watchful eyes of the small-town gossips, Molly sells Witt chocolates. She visits him under the pretense of checking on her son, who is working for Witt cleaning the jail and his room at the back. Witt bumbles his way through visits to the store, eventually buying so much candy he has to give it away to all the children in the town.

What ensues is a light-hearted courtship amid a backdrop of the threat of a bank robbery. Molly’s children act refreshingly like real children as they show petty jealousies, squabble over chores and yet defend each other when threatened. One of the funniest scenes involves Molly and Witt using Molly’s son as a go-between during one of their non-courtship fights. Eight-year-old Dickie is not the most accurate of message carriers. It had me laughing out loud!

Both of the main characters are warm people who you want to get to know. Molly actually admits to having had a satisfying sexual relationship with her first husband. Her attraction to the sheriff reminds her of what she is missing. It is a refreshing change from the “terrible first marriage sagas” often seen in historicals. Witt has been dealt a blow to his ego by his ex-wife and it takes Molly a little bit of work to break under that shell. Witt’s first wife left him for “a fancy man”, so Witt feels his size makes him unlovable. Molly breaks through that feeling slowly but surely. And when she does, watch out for the fireworks!

The townspeople are stereotypical and none really stand out, accounting for the one main detraction from this book. The characters fit all the usual molds from the gossipy women to the creepy banker to the trouble-making miner who is really a nice guy when not riled. None of these characters are well defined, and in fact, it was distracting to try to figure out who MayBeth, Coreyanne and Emmy Lou were whenever they appeared.

The Lawman Takes A Wife may not be a keeper, but it is fresh enough to provide a funny, relaxing read after a long day.

--Shirley Lyons


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