Barbour, Jul 2008, $10.97
In 1867 Mosqueros, Texas, new schoolteacher Grace Calhoun dreads the arrival of the “Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. As always her class of seven girls and eight boys consist of ten angels and the five Reeves’ demons; ten years old twins Abraham and Isaac, and five years old triplets Mark, Luke and John. The rowdy rascals have Grace questioning her teaching skills while their widow father Daniel writes off their pranks as boys being boys. Deciding on peace the school board Solomon-like fires Grace and expels Daniel’s children.
Grave is heartbroken as she feels justice was not served and besides she needs the money to bring her ragtag family Hannah and the other children from Chicago. Worse, she knows her insane daddy Parrish, who has stalked her and ruined her life everywhere she flees to escape him, has physically arrived. In heavy rain with a ripped nightgown torn by Parrish, Grave flees through the window into the night cutting herself as she falls. Seeing a wagon, she jumps inside the back although she feels that God has forsaken her like everyone else has. In the wintry mix, Daniel goes home unaware of the stowaway. When he discovers her she is cut up badly and fevered. He takes her home, but the Reverend catches them and demands they marry; reluctantly they do as she fears he will be another Parrish who still stalks her expecting payment in full.
This engaging return to post Civil War Texas (see PETTICOAT RANCH) is an enjoyable western romantic suspense. The cast is strong especially the lead pairing, the impish quintet, and the villain. Readers will wonder if Grace survives her daddy, will she survive the rowdy rascally Reeves sextet as she feels she has gone from the frying pan into the fire.