A KISS TO DIE FOR by Claudia Dain
A Kiss to Die For by Claudia Dain is another book I picked up from the AAR list. I'd read Ms. Dain in the past but had absolutely no memory of the experience. I checked and found Ms. Dain's TELL ME LIES on my keeper shelf and wondered why I didn't remember reading it and, since I kept the book, why I had no recollection of reading any others, or more importantly, why I apparently didn't glom any others.
This was even more puzzling after I had read A KISS TO DIE FOR. I really liked this book. It's a post Civil War western. I like reading about this period because it is such a tumultuous time in our history. Life in the United States post Civil War was a time when we redefined ourselves. The Civil War affected people of every strata of life in every part of our country. The winds of change were blowing whether or not the individual wanted them to or not. This makes for some wonderful conflict in books, so I was very interested in reading this and wondered how I'd missed it when it was released in 2003.
Here's a blurb from the author's web site:
A KILLER Women were dying. Pretty women, lonely women, women who gave their hearts to a man who promised happily ever after, but delivered death.
A STRANGER He steamed into Abilene on the locomotive, a loner with a legend attached to his name. Jack Skull claimed he was tracking a con man, a murderer, but Anne felt as if he was pursuing her.
A LOVER Though she'd sworn matrimony was not for her--it seemed to backfire for women in her family--somehow she found herself saying "I do." When Jack took her in his arms and lowered his lips to hers, reason flew out the window, and she could well believe his would be...
A KISS TO DIE FOR.
Jack Scullard, aka Jack Skull, is a former Texas Ranger turned bounty hunter. He has lots of baggage from his past, but Ms. Dain doesn't over play this and does well showing us how Jack has coped and made the best choices available to him. True to character and the time period, Jack understands what people think of him without feeling sorry for himself or bitter about it.
Anne lives with her mother, grandmother and aunt. It is Anne's habit to meet the train every day. Everyone in town knows this and expects it. Anne has a plan, a plan to leave on a train one day so she won't be left like the other women in her family have been. At least that is what she has in mind until she meets Jack one fateful morning while he is tossing a captured bounty on to the train platform.
The backdrop of the serial murders gives added suspense and tension that keeps you interested in the mystery without overwhelming the real story which is the unlikely pairing of Jack and Anne.
Maybe I'm just in a western frame of mind, but this book really captured my attention. I was moved by the individual past history of both these people. It was a story that was very accessible and one where the thoughts and feelings of the characters were easy to identify with. This is another book that successfully tells a story and keeps the characters within the context of the time period without relying on stereotype. I'd recommend it for anyone who enjoys a story with emotional depth about real people. It's a must read for anyone who likes westerns.