And I took up my next historical western romance saga from an author that is one of my all time favorites. Anticipation and eagerness built for this story of a young pioneering couple who have dreams and hope for what they can have in the wilds of Montana. They share a love that carries them through tragedy and tough hardships and sustains them through the years. Emotionally engaging, historically accurate, flawed and deep characters, colorful settings, and a surrounding cast of characters and plot threads that made this a pleasure from cover to cover.
The story is a standalone and is in itself a series all in one as it follows the story of a couple and their children’s lives.
The story opens with the encounter of Lettie McBride and Luke Fontaine on a wagon train journey to parts west out of St. Louis. Lettie and her family are escaping the troubles and awkwardness brought on by her rape and subsequent birth to a son. They want a new start and so does she though she thinks that she will never deserve or want another man. Luke was cut off from his family when his father announced that he isn’t the man’s son, but a bastard and he will never share in the family business. He is out to prove that he has worth and can make it on his own in Montana where he hopes to ranch.
Luke develops feelings for Lettie and soon proves to her that he is strong enough to love her no matter what. They leave her family at the fork in the trail and head off to make their dreams come true. A hard first winter, outlaws, loneliness, set backs, indian troubles, personal loss, estrangement, and doubt are there as they work their land and build a ranch and home. With each disaster they wonder if their dream is worth it. But Luke is strong and Lettie’s love gives him the strength to do anything. Lettie finds that supporting Luke and having his love is all she needs to sustain her.
Alright, so this one is a long drawn-out story of a young couple who start with a small stake and work to turn it into something big. They are confronted by a lot of challenges and most of them were horrific and heartbreaking. This is not a cozy or easy story nor does it resolve quickly. The courtship and marriage are only the beginning with this being the story that comes after that. The romance is passionate between Luke and Lettie, but it is hard fought.
This one was a blend of passive and active voice along with summary and narration. I did find it distracting at first as the author swiftly worked through the meet up, courtship, and marriage, but then it made sense when I realized that the real story was their settling in Montana and raising a home and family. It was a refreshing take on romance and I liked that. This is also a saga so it doesn’t end with Luke and Lettie making it after a few years, but continues on with their children growing up and starting their lives.
Saying this, I love that the author writes them as a passionate pair who have an active physical love and need each other. Their relationship is the foundation of so many lives and stories around them.
The characters are fascinating in that they are flawed and make mistakes. They are strong, handsome people that everyone sees heroic qualities in, but they have their weak moments and make mistakes. I filled a couple of tissues for these two and all they went through.
My only niggle was the ending. Things were going along and then it just stopped. I can’t say that any story threads were left dangling, but the feel of the story was of ongoing life and plans for the future. And maybe that is exactly why the author chose that point. I think an epilogue scene of a later reunion of the extended family or something like that would have been better for me. But, this was a small concern against the greater enjoyment of the book.
All in all, this author continues to give me wonderful, riveting, emotional stories. I will attack her backlist at some point and continue to snatch up any new or re-releases. Those who enjoy sweeping historical western sagas really need to read her stuff.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.