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The Code of the West series, book 1
Zachariah Hatcher and Suzanne Cedar are engaged to be married, but there's one small hurdle first they have to meet in person. Suzanne, an educated Christian lady from the East, has only known Zach, a genteel Christian rancher out West, through his letters, but she's sure he's the man for her. While returning home from business, expecting Suzanne to meet him there, Zach's stage is ambushed by Indians. With his dying breath, he begs escaped convict Tap Andrews to take Suzanne the news of what happened. Tap quickly decides to make the best of the situation by passing himself off as the rancher, and gladly heads north with his new identity.
But unknown to Tap, Suzanne has also met with bad fortune. A stage accident leaves her crushed and unconscious in the care of saloon girl Pepper Paige, who decides after Suzanne's death to escape her own empty existence by stepping into the other woman's life, follow through with the plan to meet Zach, and possibly marry him. But to be convincing, she has to learn more about this God that Suzanne and Zach wrote so much about in their letters ...
This is one of my favorite Bly books the first I ever read, the one I credit with launching me back into reading fiction, and Christian fiction in particular. The social and mental gymnastics Tap and Pepper perform in their quest to be the perfect "Zach" and "Suzanne," to figure out just what it means to be Christian, and why that seemed to be so important to those whose identities they assumed, are sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant, always entertaining. In the process, Stephen Bly paints a touching and down-to-earth picture of the true nature of God's grace and mercy. (May 2004)
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