No Other Will Do

Written by Karen Witemeyer
Review by G. J. Berger

Life is hard for Texas women in the 1880s, especially for orphans, abuse victims, and widows. A handful of these outcasts start a women’s colony in an abandoned town. The colony grows and thrives until anonymous threats demand they all clear out. Few among them have ever held a gun. The county sheriff is chasing cattle rustlers and can’t be bothered.

Most of the women with children do leave, but many stay. The town’s leader, Emma Chandler, wires Malachi Shaw to come help. He’s helping build railroad lines in Montana. The women’s colony and then thirteen-year-old Emma had saved Malachi’s life ten years before, fed and clothed him, and taught him to read and write and learn his numbers. Now he drops everything for his “angel,” Emma, and the only family he has known.

The years have been kind to Emma and Malachi. She is now the beautiful town bank manager, he one of the best dynamite men in the west. Old and fresh adult yearnings come rushing in, but Emma and Malachi repress them. Their lives would be impossible together. She must hold her threatened town together, and he must train the women to fight, help stop the bandits, and race back to a boss who allowed mere days away from his job.

Witemeyer spins a delightful story of easy-to-root-for characters fighting elusive marauders and their own feelings. Secondary characters, even horses with personality, all fit nicely. Solid action sequences and plot surprises balance the quieter scenes and help maintain a fast pace and suspense to the last pages. No Other Will Do is a pleasure to read.