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Book CoverSandy M’s review of Heartbreak Creek (Runaway Brides, Book 1) by Kaki Warner
Historical Western Romance published by Berkley Trade 5 Jul 11

With this book, Kaki Warner becomes an auto-buy for me when I’m looking for historical westerns to read. Her characters burrow their way into your heart and never let go. Even when the blackest moment in their lives hits, you know them so well by that time, their triumph may seem non-existent, but you have faith in both the characters and their writer that all will be well. The stories are wonderfully written and heartwarming. I am smitten with Ms. Warner’s work all the way around.

Edwina is the typical southern belle in Louisiana. She’d been sheltered all her life, attending balls, a very active social life and all that goes with being from a wealthy family. But then lives are torn apart by the war, and Edwina has lost everything, just as so many others in her beloved South. Having her home taken to pay back taxes is the last affront in a line of disheartening events against her and her sister. So she decides it’s time for something drastic to make sure they survive intact in more ways than one. Pru thinks Edwina has lost her mind when they make their way across the country for Edwinda to marry a Colorado rancher.

Needing a new mother for his four children so he can focus on his thousands-acre dream ranch, Declan Brodie is trying marriage one more time with a mail-order bride. Taking Edwina Ladoux at face value, it will be good to have a strong, farm-bred woman around to take care of the house and the children so he won’t have to worry about those things anymore. Needless to say, Declan is in for a huge surprise when he comes face to face with Edwina.

Both have their doubts about the other. Declan is a big man and intimidates Edwina at first. And his children are another matter all together. Though Edwina has been married before, she’s made sure consummation is to occur down the road when she signed the marriage contract. The woman can’t cook, doesn’t know how to keep house, and the kids will run all over her, and that’s only the beginning, as far as Declan is concerned. Making a deal with Edwina’s traveling companion, Pru, to teach her all she needs to know, if Edwina doesn’t come up to snuff over the next so many weeks, she’s history. Of course, Edwinda is ready to go now. Haven’t they both bitten off more than they can chew? And enjoy?

But then something very subtle begins to happen between Declan and Edwina. They each begin to look beyond first impressions and outer appearances to see the true person they are underneath all the stress, the turmoil, the vulnerability. In the midst of all this is the threat of Lone Tree, the Native American who spent a horrendous five days in Declan’s jail while he was the local sheriff, the same Indian who killed Declan’s first wife. Revenge is never so sweet when you’re on the other side of it, and Declan is determined to keep his Ed and the children safe from that lunatic. But even moving into Heartbreak Creek and taking all foreseen precautions isn’t enough to keep everyone safe. When Pru is taken, Edwina’s world begins to fall apart, and Declan knows the only thing he can do is go after Ed’s sister himself. In the middle of negotiations with Lone Tree’s chief, a stunning turn of events so unexpected puts a whole new spin on Declan and Edwina’s life, that neither know if they’ll be able to recover, despite the love they’ve found when they’d only hoped the other would reciprocate their feelings.

Ms. Warner has given readers a beautiful story of strong, independent characters coming together through a need for each other, but they grow even stronger when they open themselves up to a life they didn’t dare think about, let alone try to live. They prevail over the most frightening odds, both physical and mental. I love their banter once they become more attuned to one another, very playful and showing Declan’s humorous side, much to Edwina’s relief.  We also meet the ladies who will have future books and they are a riot, on their own in a world that didn’t look well upon women gallivanting about.

I usually don’t read excerpts given at the end of most books, only because I end up wanting more when I’ve finished, but I made an exception this time for the next addition to this series. I’m on pins and needles, of course, because again, in just a few pages, Ms. Warner has hooked me and I can’t wait for Angus in all his Scottish glory!

SandyMGrade: A+


Honest, hard-working widower, age thirty-
three, seeks sturdy English-speaking
woman to help with mountain ranch and
four children.  Drinkers, whores, and
gamblers need not apply.

Not very romantic, but after one disastrous marriage, widowed Edwina Ladoux isn’t looking for romance.  What she wants is safety for herself and her half-sister, and a way out of the war torn South, even if she has to offer herself up as a mail order bride to a stranger a thousand miles away in the Colorado Rockies.  But she hadn’t reckoned on Declan Brodie.

Declan’s first wife ran off with a gambler and was later killed by Indians.  He has no desire to saddle himself with another—and her mulatto “traveling companion”.  But his children need a mother, and he needs help to keep his mountain ranch running, and the proxy papers are already signed.  But there’s something odd about those two.  A connection he doesn’t quite understand.  But at least the companion can cook.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:

Colorado Dawn – 2012