cover image Stages of the Heart

Stages of the Heart

Jo Goodman. Jove, $7.99 mass market (432p) ISBN 978-0-440-00067-9

Flirtatious banter and an unsolved stagecoach robbery enliven this spirited, stand-alone frontier romance from Goodman (Kissing Comfort). Laurel Beth Morrison has run the Falls Hollow, Colo., stagecoach station since the death of her father seven years ago, and she’s far too focused on the business to entertain thoughts of romance. Then former Union soldier Call Landry arrives in town. When the stagecoach bearing the payroll for the town’s miners is robbed, the mining company hires Call to investigate, and he declares Morrison station his home base, agreeing to help Laurel out with odd jobs if she’ll let him use the space. Laurel and Call’s friendship soon turns to sizzling attraction and Call confesses his interest to Laurel; she’s wary of reciprocating, however, as she’s worried he’ll leave town once the case is closed. But Call’s determined to prove her wrong. The mystery is fast paced and intriguing and the nuanced characterization of the protagonists bolsters their sensual romance. Readers looking for witty western romance will be thrilled. Agent: Pam Hopkins, Hopkins Literary Assoc. (May)