High on a Hill by Dorothy Garlock
(Warner, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-446-61209
***
High on a Hill is easy, if not enthralling, reading. The setting is a small town in Missouri, circa 1925. During this period selling liquor is illegal, and Annabel Donovan's father, Murphy, is a bootlegger.

Annabel has spent many of her 21 years moving with her father from place to place. She spends most of her time with her father's assistant, Boone. He watches out for her while her father is away on "business."

Murphy wants the best for his beloved daughter. He promises Annabel that he is getting out of the bootlegging business and that when he does, she will be a wealthy and respected lady. Annabel doesn't care about being a wealthy lady - she just wants her father to be safe.

The Donovans have just moved to the small town of Henderson, Missouri. Murphy leaves Annabel with Boone while he takes care of his interests. Boone treats Annabel like she is his daughter. Neither Murphy nor Boone wants Annabel to have anything to do with the Carters, their neighbors.

The Carters own a still and supply the local sheriff with liquor. The male Carters think women should be beaten if they get out of line. Tess Carter fears her brothers, so when her oldest brother Marvin tells her to spy on Annabel she does. Boone doesn't like the male Carters, but he does like Tess and so does Annabel.

When a starved young man, Jack Johnson, shows up on Annabel's door, she takes him in and nurses him back to health. Jack left home and his worried family asked Corbin Appleby, a family friend and an ex-lawman to find Jack.

Corbin finds Jack and is immediately attracted to Annabel. Annabel returns his regard, but Murphy doesn't think Corbin is good enough for his daughter. Boone likes Corbin, but worries that he is going to find out that they are bootleggers and that he will turn Murphy in, which would break Annabel's heart.

High on a Hill is a simple story of a simpler time. There are good people and bad people and not much in-between. Annabel and Corbin are good, likable people with solid values. They both try to help others whenever they can. Their love is inevitable. I found I was more interested in the romance of Boone and Tess, who have more compelling obstacles standing in the way of their happiness.

I have to say for a small town, Henderson certainly seems to have more than its fair share of criminals. But that is a plot point, so I won't quibble about it.

While High on a Hill may not be a compelling read, it is a decent read. The story line is nicely paced and readers won't be bored.

--Judith Flavell


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