GUEST REVIEW: Heartbreak Creek by Kaki Warner

Sunday, August 14, 2011 1:00
Posted in category Review

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

I absolutely love Kaki Warner’s Heartbreak Creek, the first book in her Runaway Brides series. But as all romance readers know, you’re supposed to show, not tell.  So let me show you how much I love Heartbreak Creek instead: Once I finished, I went and bought Kaki Warner’s Blood Rose trilogy.  And preordered Colorado Dawn, the next Runaway Brides title.  Kaki Warner is now an auto buy for me.

After the ruin of the Civil War, Edwina knows there’s nothing left for her in Louisiana.  When the bank takes her family home, she heads out to the wilds of Colorado to be a mail order bride to one Declan Brodie, dragging her half-sister, Pru, along.  Declan doesn’t want love or even companionship in this marriage.  All he wants is a strong farm wife who’ll cook his meals, clean his house, and keep his kids in line.

The problem is, Ed’s a Southern belle who doesn’t know the first thing about housekeeping.  All she knows is how to flirt and sew.  And sarcasm.  She definitely knows sarcasm.  To make matters worse, the Arapaho responsible for the death of Declan’s first wife is now threatening his entire family.

At its heart this a story about relationships, specifically Ed’s developing relationship with Declan, and her evolving relationship with Pru.  And I have to say how much I adore Pru, the result of a relationship between Ed’s father and one of his slaves.  Writing about race needs to straddle that fine line between being authentic to the period, while also making your characters sympathetic, and Ms. Warner does an exceptional job here.  Ed’s and Pru’s characters and relationship ring so true to me, yet they are also firmly rooted in their time and place.  (Pru’s last name is a perfect example of this.)  I do wish there were some scenes from Pru’s point of view, but I’m guessing (and fervently hoping) that we’ll have Pru’s book as well.  Watching Ed grow into her role as a wife, mother, and frontierswoman is a treat, and her painful but necessary disaffection with Pru saddened me as well.

Declan is a great hero for Ed, a strong, silent type who’s secretly a teddy bear underneath it all.  His struggle to do right by his family, both of his wives, and pretty much everyone in the book really touched me.  I also love the twin themes of his phobia and the villian’s phobia.  The objects of their fears are such simple things, but in the end prove to be serious Achilles’ heels for both.

But perhaps the best parts of the book are the humor and the sincere love of the West and the frontier that are threaded thorough out the story.  I like that the ravages that mining could inflict on a place and the necessity of the railroad for the survival of small towns in the West are touched on but not belabored. Ms. Warner’s unique voice really shines through, and I enjoyed every page.  I’m looking forward to the  rest of the Runaway Brides.  Especially Pru!

Grade: A+

See Sandy M’s review here.

Summary:

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.

What starts as a marriage of convenience between a southern princess and an overworked rancher-sometimes-sheriff, soon becomes a battle of wills, then a grudging respect, and finally a side-by-side struggle to rebuild the ranch after a vicious Indian attack.  But just as things are starting to looking up again, and Declan and Ed begin to explore their feelings for each other, Declan’s first wife returns and an old enemy out for revenge threatens to destroy the family.  It all comes to a head high atop an abandoned mine platform, where Edwina fights as she never has before, and Declan faces his greatest fear in order to save his
daughter and the woman he has grown to love.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:

Book Cover

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