This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Signet
Released on November 7, 2013
One of my favorite type of historical romance to read is the Western especially if it has an air of the rough and gritty survival adventure to it balanced with a good strong romance. I was pleased when this one delivered on that right away.
By the way, this is the third book in a series. I read it out of order and had no trouble so it will work as a standalone. Characters from the previous books do enter in and play their parts, but the ties are loose enough to not be a problem.
The Prologue tells the story of how Luke Phellan came to leave the US Army to become a captive of the Cheyenne. Six years later, desperate Rose Varner hunts down the elusive man known as the ‘White Ghost’ because he is the only person who can lead her to the Cheyenne so she can find her daughter who was captured in a raid.
Rose discovers that finding the man was the easy part. He is parts crazy and parts indifferent to life in general. He tells her that he cannot help. Rose is scared and disappointed, but sets out on her own to find the Cheyenne. What she encounters after that nearly causes her to lose her scalp and her life, but the odd man from the hills saves her and inexplicably agrees to help her. His reason? Courage matters. He sees her as courageous.
Luke slides between hallucination and lucidity becoming more alert as they go. Rose is something new and intriguing. He knows what she is up against and tells her, but her determination and strength bring him back to life. He will help her. Their path to the Cheyenne is both twisted and fraught with danger. The price on Luke’s head, other warring tribes on the prairie, the army and finally an old enemy of Luke’s form their barriers to Rose’s child. In the midst of it, they draw together as companions and in a weak moment come together as lovers which has far reaching results. The end is unexpected all around.
I really enjoyed where this story took things. I loved the strong and determined heroine, Rose. She had fears and she had insecurities, but she didn’t wallow and get all angsty and considering what she went through, that’s saying a lot. Luke is another one who underestimates himself and carries around a lot of guilt and he really is just a tad unbalanced from it all, but he is a truly courageous hero that I enjoyed too. They make an interesting pair, but they really work. Luke helps Rose find her daughter and is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her, but Rose saves him right back. She gets him out of his own haunted thoughts and back into the land of the living again. She gives him purpose. Luke restores her low opinion of herself because he looks on her as a desirable woman and protects her showing she is worthy of being cared for. There aren’t many opportunities, but they prove that they share a strong passion too. They save each other and can’t see the evidence of love that the other is offering for the longest time.
The backdrop of the post-civil war time frame out on the frontier offered up a strong external conflict for the story. The details were handled well. It is the last days of the way of life for the plains tribes and that was bittersweet. The social and cultural aspects of the time were told well too. I enjoyed all the details that added, but didn’t take over the story.
My only niggle was near the end when the story got derailed by unforeseen twists and the pace became rushed. I would have liked to have read the actual scene for the showdown between Many Horses and Luke, but it was glossed over and only referenced a little. I also would have liked to have seen more time spent with Luke and Rose after the resolve. This is not to say that I disliked the ending. Let’s just say it would have been better from my perspective to have had these other scenes and not been so rushed.
So all in all, I found it a great reading experience and can easily recommend it to those who enjoy a bit of grit and spice to their Historical Western Romances.
My thanks to Penguin Group for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review thoughts.
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