Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Perfect 10: THE FALL OF ROME by Beth Ciotta

THE FALL OF ROME - Beth Ciotta
Wild West Romance Series, Book 3
A Perfect 10
Medallion Press, Inc. - Medallion Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-933-83604-1
July 2008
Historical Romance

Casa Bend, Phoenix and other locations in Arizona Territory - 1878

Former Wells Fargo Detective Rome Garrett has killed a man. Now, he's sitting in a jail cell promising the Lord that he'll change his ways. His brother, Boston, isn't much help. Even though Boston was right there in the middle of the fight with him in the Tarantula Saloon, he's free to leave while Rome is still stuck in jail. But Boston can't help shooting a few wisecracks at Rome's ego before he walks out, leaving his brother stewing in anger and still making promises to the Almighty.

Former card shark turned saloon owner Jane Murdock, aka, Katrina Simmons, is at a crossroad. In order to protect her only living relative, her five-year-old niece Frankie, Kat changed her name six years ago and became just plain Jane, a disguise that's kept her well hidden from former lover, notorious outlaw Bulls-Eye Brady. Bulls-Eye will do anything to get back at Kat for running out on him, so when her sister died, Kat hid Frankie away in a convent to keep her safe. Kat has to bring Frankie home without Bulls-Eye finding either of them. It looks as if plain Jane has to disappear and become Katrina Simmons, gambler, once again. It's the only way Kat can think of to flush Bulls-Eye out of hiding so she can turn him over to the authorities and get on with her and Frankie's lives.

Rome's brother, London, left the family business in San Francisco and moved to Phoenix to be near their sister, Paris, and their other brother, Athens. The Last Chance Saloon doesn't have the glitz and glamour of San Francisco, but it's the perfect front for the PMA, or Peacemaker's Alliance, a covert organization headed by Athens Garrett, whose mission is to rid the West of lawlessness, and lastly, capture Bulls-Eye Brady once and for all. The outlaw's latest train robbery ended badly after Brady senselessly beat a woman to death and left a trail of other dead bodies in his gang's wake. For Athens, this particular job is personal, and he won't rest till Brady swings from the end of a rope. But the first step is finding Kat Simmons, pairing her up with Rome at the tables, and flushing Bulls-Eye out of the desert. This is one challenge Bulls-Eye Brady can't ignore -- his ex-lover and hated enemy, together again.

Back in Gila Gulch, London shows up and offers to bail Rome out of jail, on a condition. Rome doesn't have much choice but to agree to London's ultimatum: reunite with Kat Simmons and catch Bulls-Eye Brady. And once Katrina and Rome come together again, their passions ignite. Years ago they were lovers, but never friends; their relationship was built on lust, passion, and booze until Jed Brady waltzed into Kat's world and offered her a better life. Now, Kat regrets the mistakes she made with Rome, but the most important thing in her life is getting Frankie out of Brady's path of revenge. And if Kat can wipe Rome out of her heart along the way, that's even better. As for Rome, he wants to erase the memory of Kat's touch from his mind and exorcise the demons he faces each time he thinks of her, which is every waking moment. Only this time, he'll make her rue the day he walked into her room and found her with Bulls-Eye in bed.

All the players are in place, and it's a race back and forth across the Arizona Territory to save a little girl from a ruthless killer in the THE FALL OF ROME. The action takes place as each chapter unfolds by telling the story from multiple viewpoints. Bulls-Eye is a deadly and crazed killer chasing after Frankie, who he thinks will bring him to Kat. Meanwhile, Seth and Rome both go looking for Kat; London Garrett falls for a woman who is not who she pretends to be; Boston has disappeared while searching for Frankie; and Athens is left trying to save them all.

Non-stop action, lively characters, and a red hot story put THE FALL OF ROME on the top of this month's do-not-miss reads. Each and every character is fully drawn and leads us through several interacting plot threads that blend perfectly into an intricately woven tapestry at the story's end. This is the third and final book in Beth Ciotta's Wild West Romance series that began with LASSO THE MOON (February 2006) and ROMANCING THE WEST (October 2007). If you love wild and wooly Western tales, this series is for you! My only regret is that the trilogy is at the end, but I wonder what happened to brother Boston Garrett's story? I am hoping Ms. Ciotta will bring us another chapter in this wonderful series.

THE FALL OF ROME is a flawlessly choreographed dance full of fun characters, suspense, and passion, and earns RRT's Perfect 10 Award! Don't miss this book!

Diana Risso

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