Friday, March 28, 2014

REVIEW: Better She Live by Judy Baker

Ruby Thornton, the proprietor of the Silver Sage Saloon is a business woman, not a prostitute. But, because she runs a saloon, the proper folks of Silver Sage Creek treat her as such, until the wealthy Richard Webster moves into town. His reputation of being a gentleman and a lucrative railroad businessman has the entire town smitten, including Ruby.

When a cowboy named Jesse Stryker comes along working for the wealthy Webster, Ruby is torn by her conflicting emotions. His angry eyes contradict his proposition for a night of pleasure. She’s tempted. Only, she isn’t a prostitute.

Ruby’s first instincts about a person is usually right, until now. Who’s the shrewd and fiendish man, the wealthy Webster or Stryker? Caught up in a charmed life, Ruby’s backed into a corner of kidnapping and murder, putting her life and others in danger. Who can she trust?



4.5 Stars
Like many Western towns in the years following the Civil War, Silver Sage Creek is facing some drastic changes, brought about mostly by the explosive growth of the railroad.  Ruby Thornton’s saloon, inherited from a man who helped her rebuild her life after she was traumatically separated from her home and family back in Atlanta, is falling a little behind.  Large numbers of railroad employees, ranch hands, and other travelers are looking for services she does not provide, and has no intention of ever providing: prostitution.  So she needs to consider other attractions, like musical performances.  She also finds herself caught up in a romantic triangle, torn between wealthy, charming railroad businessman Richard Webster, and his employee, Jesse Stryker, equally appealing but more rugged, less sophisticated and just a little mysterious.
Ruby also has an eye for helping people in need of rescue, like she had been once.  Complicating her life just as much as her two suitors, is her growing involvement in rescuing young girls kidnapped and forced into prostitution by someone called the Railnapper.  Could one of her two beaus be this villain?  And how can she keep those she has rescued safe, not to mention surviving threats to herself?
There are strong elements of romance in ‘Better She Live’, but the intriguing triangle is expertly blended with the suspense involving the Railnapper, all woven nicely into a good portrayal of Western history.  Not only are Ruby, Jesse, and Richard all interesting characters, there are many wonderful secondary characters.  Details of Ruby’s past are carefully included, giving readers all the information needed to understand this story, without slowing it down.    
Overall, this book is very well written; the only flaw, in my opinion, is that the build-up to the final climax feels unnecessarily drawn out, even though many of the details are interesting.  I truly enjoyed reading it; in fact, I’ve already read most of it a second time, as I really like historical romances with good suspense.  Therefore, I definitely recommend Judy Baker’s book, and award it 4.5 stars.
I am grateful for the free reviewer’s copy that I was given. (NOTE: I also intend to read the earlier book in this series, ‘Better She Die’, and watch for when the next one is published.)

Reviewed by: Roberta 

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