Homeward Hearts (Topaz Historical Romances) - Alexis Harrington In, we find two lost souls and their very different ways of dealing what life dished up for them. Our hero was wrongly accused of having killed his unfaithful wife. He was convicted on circumstantial evidence and the word of a man he had trusted. A deathbed confession of said man gets our hero released from prison after five years. While anyone wrongfully send to prison would react with anger and distrust, a younger person lashes out differently than an older more mature person and the author skillfully shows us the anger of a young man of having lost five years of his live and the distrust of pretty much anyone he meets. Of course there is more to the story; a bounty hunter is searching for our hero, forcing him to hide, doing different jobs and then to flee again. He grimly accepts that he will for the rest of his life be a drifter.

Our heroine is not your typical petit little lady but a tall, competent woman. Her mother had died years ago, at which point her father, the blacksmith of a small town, turns to whiskey, leaving her to fend for their survival in a dying town. Now he is dead too, leaving her with a mortgage on her home and no way of paying it. She advertises for a blacksmith, offering room and board as she is unable to pay. The whole town pities her but does nothing to help and only gossips about her.

Our hero does not make the best impression when the first meet and their different personalities continue to clash. The hero is angry and distrustful and she tries to make the best of what life is offering her which includes a slimy suitor.

Bit by bit, day by day, hero and heroine learn to trust and depend on each other. However, doom in form of the bounty hunter arrives in town. The night before, the heroine was able to pay her mortgage and now is dreaming of more than making the best of it. They also during that night finally shared intimacy (beautifully written, for a change I did not skim the s*x scenes) and the heroine hopes that the hero now will stay. He knows he loves her but feels he is not good enough for her and also, he can’t give her a stable home as he feels, he needs to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.

They part bitterly, the heroine shouting the one insult she knows hurts him most. Retreating back into her super competent personality, she pays him what they agreed, half of what was left after the pays of the mortgage and gives him what she believes a worthless mining claim. She gives it to him because deep down, she does not want him to leave even after the hurtful scene and the claim is only 10 miles away from the town up the mountain. The hero knows he really should go much further but can’t bring himself to go further.

Thus is the situation when the bounty hunter arrives. He goes and sees the heroine and she believes she manages to send him in the wrong direction and heads out herself to warn our hero. She has now realized that whatever comes, she does not want to live without him and he also accepts that she is strong enough to share his life. Due to her stubbornness, the meeting between hero and his nemesis takes part. And here the hero does the growing, against her wishes, he confronts his demons and because it is a romance it has a HEA.

I enjoyed the books so much, I immediately bought the sequel, , which is story of the bounty hunter and it promises to let the reader know how hero and heroine of this books are faring.