|Victoria Gordon: Sunset Woman|
Betancourt & Company (Hardcover), ISBN 1-59224-939-6
Rebecca Susan Bennett's father, Otis, saved a young half-breed boy's life after a bear attack. He nursed the boy back to health. But Otis didn't know that the boy understood English -- and everything Otis said about the cache of gold he once found and hid. Otis spent the rest of his life seeking that gold He took his family into the wilds, and during an Indian attack, the Indians kidnapped Rebecca's sister Amy and nearly scalped Otis. Otis' wife took Rebecca home, and Otis wandered for the rest of his life, seeking his gold and his missing daughter.
Years later, Rebecca joins her father out west. They agree to provide horses and wagons to a paleontologist on a dig. But outlaw gold-seekers kidnap Otis and torture him for the secret location of his gold. Otis dies three days later, but not before extracting a promise from Rebecca -- she will find and rescue her sister…or kill her.
At a gala ball before the expedition sets out, Rebecca meets Lucas Swallow and the pair discover a mutual attraction. In a flustered moment, Rebecca confides why she absolutely must accompany the paleontologist on his quest across the open prairies. Her story, combined with an intricately carved bear claw, lead Lucas to a startling revelation -- Lucas was the boy Rebecca's father nursed back to health so long ago. Because Otis saved his life, Lucas feels honor bound to help and protect Rebecca in her quest to find Amy, especially considering Rebecca's sheer terror of anything to do with Indians.
Lucas easily passes as a white man, but he agonizes over the secrets he carries: his half-breed status and the fact that Otis' secret gold no longer exists. Shortly after Otis left him, Lucas moved the gold and, through the years, spent it. As Lucas and Rebecca journey through the wilds, the attraction between the pair deepens. But the danger around them does too. The outlaws that killed Otis hunt the pair, and the band of Indians holding Amy -- or run by Amy? -- pose a threat as well. The chase culminates in a suspenseful shootout.
Gordon Aalborg, writing as Victoria Gordon, weaves a terrific tale of action and romance, though he could've spent a bit more time on the romance part. However, the attraction between Luc and Rebecca comes across as very believable. Gordon writes the secondary characters very strongly, and the various subplots merge into the main plot easily. An excellent book.
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