by Pam Crooks, historical (2002)
Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-4986-4
It all began one night when a nosey Father Donovan stumbles upon fresh graves being dug at night at the nearby prison. So he brings two nuns along with him to demand to know why they are digging graves. Needless to say, disaster ensues.
The Father gets to meet his Heavenly father, where no doubt he will file a complain. Same with one nun. The other, Hannah Benning, who isn't a nun as much as she is this close to being a nun, is soon taken hostage by a delirious prisoner named Quinn Landry. It soon turns out that the prison is all wrapped up under a conspiracy of illegal drug experimentation and all, and Quinn is infected with the toxic poison. Soon he and Hannah are on the run for their lives, and of course they will fall in love.
Okay, the plot sounds silly, but Hannah is a revelation. Quinn is surprised when this almost-nun soon displays her talents in lockpicking, hunting, and subterfuge (the scene where she smoothly steps in to lie and save their hide is worthy of a standing ovation). Who is Hannah?
Quinn is more typical framed guy out to clear his name, but he's not too bad. He is noble, nice, and when he recovers from the effects of the toxins in his blood, he treats Hannah as his ally as well as his savior. There's a really nice love story in here, and I can easily see these two becoming the new Scarecrow and Mrs King of the Western Frontiers. A heroine and a hero who are equally matched when it comes to skills and strength - what's not to root for?
But this story comes to a painful, grinding halt when they are rescued by some Mexican clan out to avenge themselves on the same bad guys (coincidence?). Of course, vengeance gets tossed aside as our Mexican mariachis becomes cheerleaders for our main characters' love affair, except for that only ugly guy who exists only to threaten rapine and murder on our heroine. And as Quinn attempts to unravel the conspiracy behind his framing, the story becomes more and more predictable (the mystery is pretty standard), although the ending scenes redeem this story well enough.
What I really like about this story is how it portrays Hannah's religious confusion as real. In the end, she learns that she is trying to escape her life by taking vows, so maybe life as a nun isn't what she needs. The author also takes the extra mile to show why Hannah and Quinn will fall in love with each other, with Hannah's epiphany arising in the last few nicely done scenes. By the time the closing paragraph (just "Always.") rolls in, I'm thinking that Hannah's Vow is definitely alright. Specifically, readers tired of babbling, inept heroines constantly in need of rescuing may find find Hannah, who rescues Quinn as much as he rescues her, and her guy and their love story something to savor.
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