cover image Lies, Love & Redemption

Lies, Love & Redemption

Kelli A. Wilkins. Medallion, $9.99 e-book (350p) ISBN 978-1-942546-64-1

Wilkins (Killer in Wolf’s Clothing) rustles up a thoughtful frontier romance between a grieving shop owner and a wounded stranger who stumbles into her Nebraska dry goods store in 1877. Cassie Wilcox is nearly bankrupt from shoplifters, nonpaying customers, and the reverend’s judgmental wife, who has turned the town against her. In addition, Cassie’s ex-lover robbed and abandoned her. Cassie’s only friends are the sheriff and the women of the brothel until handsome Sam Hixton staggers into her store, shot and near death, and collapses. Reluctantly, Cassie nurses him back to health, unaware that his identity is a sham. Their growing attraction becomes erotic and the story becomes dramatic (a dramatic vignette features wild lovemaking in a pantry while dodging bullets), but overused misunderstandings and doubts arise when Sam leaves on mysterious “personal business.” The sexual victimization of two characters feels gratuitous; yet, Wilkins is otherwise adept at tackling serious themes of domestic violence, bereavement, and trust. (Sept.)