Pros: Heart-warming romance/family story
Cons: Some loose ends and a shaky start
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Edwina Ladoux is losing her home—and truth be told, it’s been in ruins ever since the Civil War paid an all-too-personal visit. On impulse she sets herself up as a mail-order bride, hoping that starting over in Heartbreak Creek, Colorado, will make everything all right again. She sets off with her half-sister, Prudence, not expecting huge, taciturn Declan Brodie, a widowed rancher who was himself expecting a sturdy farm wife who could mother his four children, not a temperamental Southern girl who can’t even cook.
With some (okay, a lot) of help from Prudence, and her own fiery temper and steel backbone, Ed slowly adjusts to ranch life and even riding herd on a bunch of unruly kids—until an Indian attack leaves the ranch in ruins. Ed finds that just as things are getting dangerous, she’s ready to fight for her new family—and it’ll take all her fire and steel to hold onto what she’s gained.
I will say that Kaki Warner’s Heartbreak Creek (a “Runaway Brides” novel) did telegraph some of its “surprises”; obviously I won’t go into details so as to avoid potential spoilers. I also found Ed’s initial naivete and foolishness off-putting.
That said, I warmed to the characters as the tale progressed. There’s decent chemistry between Declan and Ed eventually, and the kids are a fun rowdy lot. It’s enjoyable to watch Ed start adjusting to her new life, and although there are few true surprises, the plot unfolds nicely with some decent tension and danger. It’s obvious that there are more tales to tell in this town, although I would have liked at least a little more immediate closure to some of Pru’s tale; it felt artificially truncated, probably to leave room for another book.
The dilapidated mining town is an interesting setting, particularly with some of the side characters who get involved in altering the town’s future. I’m looking forward to reading more about the two women Pru and Ed befriended on their way into town, in particular.
All in all this is a fun little read with some good emotional scenes, just a touch of sweet sex, and great family hijinks.