WALKING ON AIR - Catherine Anderson
Valance Family, Book 1
Random, Colorado - 1880
Christmas day is just like any other day for gunslinger Gabriel Valance. Each day the sun comes up is simply one more chance to survive and stay alive. Gabe has always lived his life on the edge, and his fast gun is a legend. But today, his luck has run out. Caught off guard, he's been shot and lays dying in the street. Only all is not as it seems. Gabe knows he should be dead, he felt the bullet hit his chest, but when he awakens outside an old shack, he's confused; there's no blood, and he is standing on a cloud!
Two angels await Gabriel and offer him a second chance for a better after-life. He can redeem his fate if he completes an assignment. He has thirty days, just one short month, to marry the beautiful shopkeeper Nancy Hoffman, and save her lost soul. And most important, Gabriel cannot change anyone's destiny while reliving his last thirty days on earth. He cannot save the small child living under the stairs; he cannot prevent an old lady from being killed in the street; nor can he tell Nancy he has seen into her past; she must learn to trust him enough to fall in love with him and become his wife. An impossible job to complete in thirty short days...
Nancy Sullivan has been hiding in Random for years. Back in Boston, she stabbed a man who accosted her; then she took her baby sister, Laney, and ran as far away as she could get. Nan knows she's probably wanted for the murder of the old fool, so she hides. She changed her name, bought a small hat shop and learned a trade so that she and Laney could survive alone.
WALKING ON AIR is a terrific novel! Gabe and Nan are both lonely people who have never had a chance to learn about living life as part of a loving family. Gabe's mother died when he was barely six years old, and he had to learn to survive on his own even as a child. After Nan's mother died, her father saw her only as a pawn to auction off to the highest bidder. Their pasts have shaped their destinies. Gabe does not trust people; they would sooner shoot him in the back as talk to him, and he has no experience in romancing a woman, he pays for any favors he desires. Likewise, Nan does not trust any man, nor will she ever consent to marry. She's happy providing for herself and her sister, and she'll let no man rule her life every again.
This is one novel you will not put down! Gabriel and Nan are exceptional characters and perfectly balanced as hero and heroine. Likewise, the secondary characters inside this magical story are fabulous! There is the young boy who hides outside the brothel waiting for his runaway mother; Geneva White, the banker's wife and local gossip; Doc Peterson, who becomes Gabe's ally; Nan's teenaged sister, Laney, who is suspicious of Gabriel and her sister's sudden marriage; and host of others too numerous to mention.
WALKING ON AIR is another great book by the incomparable Ms. Anderson, don't miss it!