The idea of romance set against the backdrop of the inception of a town on the frontier of Northern Texas after the Civil War had vast appeal. It didn’t hurt that it was written by an author I’ve had my eye on to try out her stuff for a while. From the beginning, this story that is really several stories all in one ran me through all my emotions and left me so satisfied in the end.
From what I can gather, this book is a late written prequel to an existing series about the people of the modern day small Texas town of Harmony. This prequel is about the town’s beginnings and about the three main founding families- Trumans, McAllens, and Mathesons. Each of these couples get their story told separately and then the stories wove together when they met up to start the town. This book can read as a standalone, a beginning to series or a mid-series flashback to how it all started.
The first couple, the Trumans, had probably the farthest to come and I don’t mean physical distance. They began as a drunken man beaten down by life that is given one last chance by the sheriff. He is offered the opportunity for work with a man who wants to found a town in the wild northern Texas area. The job comes with pay and forty acres of land if he sticks it out for two years. Truman is all set to take it until he learns he must have a wife. This is solved when the sheriff chooses a woman recently released from prison with no other option. Truman lays it out there for her with all honesty- he’ll never love again, he’ll provide for her and keeper her safe, and the silent, mysterious woman takes him up on it along with adding that he can never force himself on her or ask about her past.
The second couple, the McAllens, are young, adventurous and running away from abusive homes. They have known each other all their lives and now this opportunity for Patrick to go as a carpenter to help build a town and acquire land is just the fresh start they need. Annie and Patrick bubble over with innocence and young love as they grow up fast struggling to begin their life together.
And the final couple, the Matthesons, are already married, but have never really been together longer than it took for him to get her pregnant and return to his army post. Gillian only knows army life, but he falls in love with a beautiful Kansas farm girl and marries her only to find that she has no intentions of leaving the family farm. Daisy thought he would change his mind if she told him no often enough, but now she realizes that if she wants a home with her husband and her boys, she will have to leave the bosom of her family and strike out to make a new home with her husband. The task of beginning a new town seems like a good fresh start for both of them if only she can persuade Gillian to give up his army career and do it.
This one was probably a vast undertaking for the author in that she wrote several interconnecting stories all in one book. It really worked and had a cohesiveness to it that really impressed me. The three men did most of the narration. Each man was so different from the other as were their circumstances that even without the chapter headings I would have known who was continuing the stories. I was taken with how these very different people were coming together for one common goal and how they became friends along the way.
All three couples were in essence courting and falling in love through this western frontier adventure and that was the best part. There was humor, heartbreak and heartwarming scenes that really resonated with me. Truman and Karrissa are the damaged ones that have to take things carefully and gently. Patrick and Annie are just shining with fun and young love in their innocent explorations into passion. And Gillian and Daisy are the second chance lovers who are hopeful that what brought them together will keep them together.
But there is a balance too. It’s not all relationship building. This story paints a good picture of post-war Texas, frontier life, and pioneer spirit. There are some pretty tragic stuff and dangerous situations going on.
All in all, this was a fantastic western historical romance full of a pinch of spice to the romances and some intense situations to make you realize you’re reading a western. I will eventually make my way back for the modern-day Harmony books to see what happened to the later generations.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.