cover image Forged in Love

Forged in Love

Mary Connealy. Bethany House, $16.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-764-24113-0

Connealy (A Model of Devotion) kicks off the Wyoming Sunrise series with a spirited, suspenseful romance. It’s 1870 in Pine Valley, Wyo., when Mariah Stover’s brother and father are killed during a stagecoach robbery and she’s left pinned under the carriage and presumed dead. Since the “Deadeye Gang” is notorious for killing witnesses, Mariah’s friends bury an empty coffin marked with her name. They also urge her to flee town, but Mariah’s dedicated to her work as a blacksmith, so she prays to God for protection and returns to the forge. Meanwhile, she becomes closer with Clint Roberts, a friend who helped tend to her as she recovered, and though they develop feelings for one another, Mariah balks at the idea of marriage, which would require her to give up her career. There’s not much time to focus on romance, though, as a string of accidents—a freak explosion at the forge, a break-in at her house—suggest the Deadeye Gang hasn’t forgotten about her, leading Mariah, Clint, and friends to work together to keep her safe. Connealy’s memorable characters—especially tough, gun-toting Mariah—are easy to root for as they propel a richly-detailed adventure that captivates till the end. Readers will eagerly await the series’ next entry. (Feb.)