This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on May 6, 2014
Title totally grabbed me on this Western Historical Romance. New to me author, western backdrop, and mail order bride trope were just thick layers of icing on this already tantalizing fictional cake.
This was the third book in a series, but I was able to jump right in and read it no problem though after meeting several of the town characters and enjoying the author’s writing; I will go back for the rest of the series.
The story opens with a prologue describing Jane, the heroine’s dismal situation that leads her to take drastic measures with her life. She has been in correspondence with a rancher out west who is looking for a wife. Then the story switches to Morgan Longstreet’s perspective where he tries to avoid all the small town’s friendly nosiness as he waits at the depot for his mail order bride to appear.
Their first encounter is one for the ages as both of them realize that things were getting real and they are not what the other realized they would be. After negotiating the first little bit like the delicate art of dancing with porcupines, they settle into a watchful routine. Morgan and Jane adjust to being married to strangers who both came from really rough circumstances, ranch life as a married couple and feeling their way toward teasing out the painful and prickly secrets that are being kept, communicating about new expectations, and navigating the stirrings of attraction.
All the while Morgan and Jane are coming to terms and then some, someone from Morgan’s past plots in the shadows. Morgan will be cornered into doing something he never wanted to do again to protect what is his and what has come to mean so much to him.
The plot on this one bore strong resemblance to the old classic, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte when I started reading the Prologue and I cracked up when the author acknowledged this openly a little later. I love the Jane Eyre story so I was all for that. The book took its time as it set up the characters, the slow to build relationship and where the conflicts would come. I enjoyed that the conflicts were internal to the relationship in the form of both having to feel comfortable enough to disclose their pasts and then external as people from Morgan’s past plan to interfere in their lives.
The author had such a way of writing characters and their circumstances. Jane Middlebourne is a unique heroine that is an echo of Jane Eyre in personality the way she speaks her mind and has decided opinions even though it is only being with Morgan and living at the ranch that allows for her worth to truly shine. At first, I wasn’t that taken with her bristling and sharp tongue because she did a fair amount of assuming, but then again Morgan was cranky right back at her so it wasn’t all one sided. Jane’s story is unveiled first and one feels badly for her, but it is obvious that it gave her inner strength and the backbone she would need to trek across the country on her own and make a life for herself with Morgan. Morgan’s story came a bit at a time. His story broke my heart a little. It is amazing that he turned out to be such a noble, caring and tender man who appreciated Jane’s qualities and wasn’t afraid of a strong woman. The healing they caused in each other was touching to behold.
I appreciated the fact that the characters and their romance were developed in such a way that it wasn’t easy. There were misunderstandings, disappointments, awkwardness and that all made sense since they were total strangers coming together out of mutual need.
[quote]He held his hand out, palm up.
Jane looked at it, looked at him, and shook her head. “I can’t” she said. “I think I might break if I touch you right now.”
Nodding, he withdrew it…
Morgan said, “I could tear a strip off of just about anyone who looked at me crossways right now, but It’s not because I’m angry with you. That’s what you need to know, Jane. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with what’s inside me except hold onto you, but since you won’t–“
Jane threw off the blanket and stood. “No, I’m good now. I want you to hold me. I do.” pp 229-230 Jane and Morgan, In Want of a Wife[/quote]
This made the romance all the sweeter when it started to build. Their passion was so honest and was like romance without words. It was amazing how the author timed it so that the words come right before the tough, dangerous times begin.
And dangerous they were indeed. The villains of this piece were definitely that. They are introduced earlier as the reader is made aware of their plottings off scene. While I appreciated the tension this was building, there was a part of me that didn’t like seeing them as personable. They joked and told stories about the past so that it made them relate-able and I didn’t want to have any sympathies for them after they started doing their worst. They were definitely worthy opponents and put Morgan and Jane along with their Morningstar Ranch people in a tough corner.
The backdrop of the western ranch and railroad town of Bitter Springs and its people added some good flavor to this story. I loved the inclusion of the two scamps, Rabbit and Finn, the motherly hotelkeeper, Mrs. Stirling and the brawling trio of brothers that worked out at the ranch. These all brought humor and fun into a story that could have been heavy with what Morgan and Jane were dealing with from their pasts to their present situation.
All in all, it exceeded expectations with all those delectable things I enjoy really working for a heartwarming western romance that had heat, humor, endearing characters and gritty action.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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