Lady Gypsy

Hannah’s Vow by Pam Crooks
(Leisure, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-8439-4986-4
Do you enjoy action packed historical romances set in the wild, wild west? If so, then you should consider putting Hannah’s Vow on your “to be read” pile. The characters are engaging, and the action is non-stop. Each chapter ends with a suspenseful moment, guaranteed to keep you reading.

Quinn Landry is a bitter and angry man. Wrongly accused and convicted of killing his sister-in-law in Texas, he has spent the past four years in the abysmal New Mexico Territorial Prison. Prison Warden Frank Briggs and his trusty guard Titus have no sympathy for the prisoners, and torture and starve them regularly. When a doctor by the name of Fenwick approaches the Warden, offering him money if he will allow his prisoners to be the guinea pigs to test his new medication known as “Fenwick’s Solution,” the warden jumps at the chance. The solution is actually quite toxic and many prisoners are killed by it.

Father Donovan, of the nearby convent, notices that fresh graves are being dug by the prison at night, and is suspicious. Accompanied by Sister Evangeline, and novitiate Hannah Benning, Father Donovan travels to the prison to investigate. Quinn hears Hannah’s voice floating down to his prison cell, and decides that she is his angel of mercy, and that the time has come for him to escape. He breaks out of his cell, and uses Hannah to threaten the others, and ultimately escape from the prison. However, before he is able to escape, he is injected with a dose of Fenwick’s Solution. He then leaves the prison, taking Hannah with him.

Not knowing where she is or where she is headed, Hannah is terrified. However, this is the point of the book where we really see her character begin to develop. It turns out that Hannah is actually the daughter of a famous con-man. As such, she is actually a very brave and capable lady. She had turned to the convent as a way of finding peace after her father’s death. While she longs to return to the convent, she doesn’t weep or have hysterics…rather, it is she who proceeds to save Quinn’s life (on more than one occasion). She nurses him back to health, while also setting up camp in the woods, hunting for food, and cooking for them.

Once Quinn is coherent again, he tells her that he needs to go back to Amarillo, the scene of his supposed crime. He promises her that he will keep her safe on the way, and then help her return to the convent once his business is Texas is taken care of. On their way, they are beset by a band of Mexican outlaws, who capture them and take them to their hideout. Among this group are a couple of wonderful secondary characters, most notably Sophia, the wife of Tomas, the outlaws’ leader. She is a great character, a strong woman who really takes charge. Quinn and Hannah soon learn that Briggs and Titus are searching for them both. Tomas is also wanted by Briggs, so the entire group hatches a plan to thwart Briggs and Titus. The plan makes good use of Hannah’s old “con-man” skills.

Having escaped the immediate threat of Briggs and Titus, Hannah and Quinn travel to Amarillo, where Quinn is at last able to confront his past and the truth about what happened to his sister-in-law four years ago. It is here that Hannah and Quinn are finally open about their feelings for one another, as well. The development of their romance is slow, and based on their growing trust and friendship. This made it more believable. While at first I thought Quinn and Hannah would have little in common, as the story and their characters developed, I really came to feel that they were perfect together.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I was frustrated by a few things. More background was needed on Quinn and Hannah. Much of Quinn’s history is finally revealed at the end of the book, yet Hannah’s past remains murky. It would have been interesting to read more about her con-man father. Also, the end of the book was wrapped up too quickly. After the characters and relationship had been slowly developed over so many chapters, the ending just seemed rushed.

These are minor points which did not really detract too much from my overall enjoyment of Hannah’s Vow. A capable, intelligent heroine and the non-stop, rollicking action alone make this a book that I would recommend to anyone who loves historical romance.

--Kerry Keating

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