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Garlock's newest (after On Tall Pine Lake) feels old, and not just because it's set in 1890. Schoolteacher Hallie Wolcott flees Whiskey Bend, Colo., with her friends Pearl and Mary after Mary is beaten by Chester, one of the town's many brutes. Pearl, the eldest, has been through this before, and she won't rest until they find a place that feels safe. Fortunately, a powerful storm leaves them washed up at tumbledown ranch owned by Eli Morgan. Eli's cantankerous and cruel mother wants no part of the women, but she begrudgingly changes her mind when an accident lands her in bed. Meanwhile, Chester's been tracking the ladies; will he find them at the ranch, the place where each woman feels she can finally find true happiness? The answer to this and other "cliffhangers" are apparent to the reader long before the resolutions are played out on the page. The prose is lifeless, the dialogue wooden and the whole thing reads like a poorly strung-together mishmash of western romance tropes. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.