Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Bounty -- Malloy Family #1 -- Beth Williamson

Oh my!! Those Malloy Men!! Beth Williamson has written a series about several members of the Malloy Family of Cheshire, Wyoming, set in the 19th century American West. And as usual, Ms Williamson has managed to bring these characters alive through her gifted writing skills and has made these people seem, at one time, normal and caring people who are trying to live their lives and raise their families with all the grace and patience we all need, and on the other hand, makes them all larger than life.

Nicole Malloy is the "baby" of the family with six brothers, one of whom is her twin. Forced into an engagement with landowner Owen Hoffman, a man who Nicole (Nicky) despises and about whom floats an aura of evil, Nicole is determined to abort the engagement and reveal Owen's evil. However, she is unprepared for her discovery of the true nature of his perversion and in the process her twin brother Logan is murdered. Seeking to pin the death of Logan and his brother on Nicky, Owen swears out a warrant for her arrest and hires bounty hunter Tyler Calhoun to bring her back for $3,000 and offers double that amount if she is brought back alive.

Tyler is one of those strong, silent, mysterious men of the old West. He has been a successful bounty hunter for 12 years and is considered the best of the lot. He thinks that finding a woman is about a 2-week task and is surprised that it takes three months to find Nicky and take her into custody. She has successfully alluded the authorities for three years. In the process of returning her to Cheshire, Tyler begins to doubt Nicky's guilt even as he is becoming more and more attracted to her.

There are twists and turns, fun and romance in this first of the Malloy series. The multilayered characters, the complexities of the plot and the underlying family dynamics are the stuff of which wonderful novels are made. Throughout this book one is rooting for Nicky, and in spite of being a big, bad, rough, seeminly heartless bounty hunter, Tyler Calhoun will win your heart before it is all over.

I think Ms Williamson has done some of her best writing about this family. They are regular people but there is an undeniable bond of affection and loyalty that binds them together--the kind of caring and grace that we want to experience in our own relationships. There are the usual characters -- the bad guys -- and they are iconic in nature--just what we would expect in the stories of the Old West. But they are not used in such a way that they cause the action and movement of the story to bog down. I really liked this book -- Nicky is a devil-may-care kind of woman who knows her own skills, is comfortable in her own skin, and is not afraid to be up front about who she is. Tyler is a person who will never be cowed by a female, that is, until he comes squarely up against a born and bred woman of Wyoming who isn't intimidated by anyone.

If you like strong characters and very readable stories, you will enjoy this book! I give this novel 4.75 out of 5 rating.

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