The latest saga from Spencer (Bitter Sweet) is an uneven western romance that will no doubt please her fans--but just barely. Sarah Merritt arrives in Deadwood, Dakota territory, in 1876 with her father's printing press and two ambitions--to find her sister Addie and to establish a local newspaper. In a town of mining bachelors, Sarah quickly becomes the center of attention in more ways than one, particularly when she knocks heads with marshal Noah Campbell, her soon-to-be romantic interest. Sarah finds Addie working in a local brothel and commences a long struggle to win back her affection and her soul. She writes to Addie's former fiance, who comes to Deadwood and joins her in pursuing Addie's salvation, an endeavor which will force them all to confront an ugly secret from the past. Sarah begins as a likable if irascible figure and Noah is predictably taciturn, but their romance drags on even after Addie achieves domestic bliss. Spencer's prose occasionally sinks to the level of B westerns, there are confusing shifts of perspective and occasional intrusive commentary by the author. Pedestrian even for a horse opera. Doubleday Book Club main selection; Literary Guild alternate.
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