In 1880, three young women are expelled from a wagon train in the middle of wild-and women-starved-Texas: young widow Sarah Andrews, volunteer nurse Lacy Dillavou and spunky Bailee Moore. All three become murder suspects when a no-goodnik attempts to steal both their wagon and Lacy, but in the absence of a dead body, a pragmatic sheriff raffles them off to marriage-minded locals-hence Thomas's Wife Lottery Series. This book, which is second in the series after The Texan's Wager, follows the relationship between Sarah and legendary bounty hunter Sam Gatlin as they evade criminals, sleep under the stars and sort out their feelings for each other. While Sam keeps them safe, Sarah tries to come to terms with her tumultuous past and the realization that she may be in love with her new husband. The Texas setting is familiar territory to Thomas's fans, as is the book's lively dialogue and endearing homespun characters. What may confuse some readers, however, are the occasional references to characters and incidents from the previous installment. Despite Thomas's sloppy plotting-she drops plot threads and characters at whim and then works them back in when it's convenient-this bright, character-centered tale should entertain fans of the Old West. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.