Sandy M’s review of Bride of the High Country (Runaway Brides, Book 3) by Kaki Warner
Historical Romance published by Berkley Trade 5 Jun 12
I am so glad I discovered Kaki Warner last year when I read her Wilkins brothers trilogy. I’ve enjoyed every last word she’s written, right up to this latest book in her Runaway Brides series, Bride of the High Country. Her characters are charming and complex with wonderful flashes of humor. She’s become quite proficient at weaving previous characters into the current story without pushing the romance aside. The feel of early America is perfect, right down to the most minute detail. Each book has its own separate storyline, all of which have been intriguing, and she seamlessly brings her characters together to invite readers along on an adventure each and every time. But aside from all that? You just need to read Ms. Warner’s books because they’re so darned good. End of story.
In this third and last book of the trilogy, we finally get Lucinda’s story. She’s been the most closed-mouth of the three brides throughout the story arc; therefore, you’re curious as to what made her run. We find her in Manhattan going by the name of Margaret. As a child, she was taken in by a lady of means, Ida Throckmorton, after Cathleen – Margaret’s birth name – was found at the scene of a fire at a local brothel. Throughout the book we find out what happened to young Cathleen, and it breaks your heart. But she overcame that tragic part of her life and became Margaret, who is now just days away from marrying Doyle Kerrigan, a fellow Irishman.
This is not a love match for Margaret, but more a union of security, something she needs more than anything. On the groom’s part, he needs her connections to raise his reputation even higher and erase more of the Irish taint that’s always surrounded him; obviously he doesn’t know Margaret is Irish. Happy with the way her life is headed, she’s content to be wife and mother and keep her secrets hidden. Until her wedding day. She learns just before her walk down the aisle that Doyle played a part in the loss of everything she held dear.
With the help of her foster mother, Margaret is now on the run, has become Lucinda, and heads west, but where she ends up is not what she’d planned. In her travels she meets an adventurous and feisty photographer, Maddie Wallace. They become fast friends and decide to keep heading west to see what they find. Lucinda is game, hoping the farther she goes, the less likely Doyle and his men, including the Pinkertons, won’t be able to find her. Little does she know she still has an ally back in New York.
Tait Rylander is friend and business associate to Doyle. In actuality, he cleans up the messes left behind by the Irishman. Lucinda never warmed up toTait, but when he’s the only one who knows where she is, he’s the only one she’s opened up to, he’s the only one who wants her for who she is, she finds herself casting off her doubts about him. Tait, on the other hand, has kept himself in check for more than a year, keeping his hands off another man’s woman. The more he discovers about his partner, the more he wants out of their arrangement and the more he wants Lucinda and will help her all he can.
Lucinda and Maddie decide to stay in Heartbreak Creek, Colorado, where they meet more friends and opportunities they never imagined crop up. This is the place that says home to Lucinda and she jumps right in to breathe life into the small town. That’s when her greatest fear is realized, and now that Tait has abandoned her, she has only herself to depend on. Tait is determined to find Lucinda to try to explain what happened on that train in his efforts to protect her. And it’s a good thing he eventually does it face to face, because the lady is having none of him and his explanations by letter. And Lucinda can’t resist him whatsoever in the flesh.
This trilogy has been nothing but fun. I’ve loved these characters from the beginning. They depict the times just as Ms. Warner’s descriptions do. The stories take you through so many emotions as you live with these people and become entrenched in their lives. Lucinda’s is the most heart breaking of the three, but as with those early pioneers of this great nation, she’s a survivor, as well as an adventurer, though that is the last thing she ever expected in her life. Tait is a straight shooter, even with Lucinda. He knows his own mind and never backs down. These two belong together in every way. It’s also nice to catch up with the characters from previous books, and this is done very well throughout the trilogy so you don’t forget their story in between books.
Whether or not you pick up western and/or early American historicals, you should read Kaki Warner’s books. Strength of character and of the land she writes about, filled with heart and spirit, each book paints the perfect picture of overcoming hardship to conquering love and romance and carving a new life for the future. You will not be sorry you plunked your hard-earned bucks down for these reads. The characters of Heartbreak Break guarantee that.
Snatched from unspeakable abuse at the age of twelve and given a new identity as the ward of a Manhattan society widow, Margaret Hamilton thinks the safety and security she craves is at last within her reach. But as she exchanges wedding vows with a ruthless and charismatic railroad mogul, a shocking revelation sends her fleeing her own wedding…with a valise full of railroad stock certificates.
Now calling herself Lucinda Hathaway, she follows the rails west, determined to make a new start. But her pursuers are not far behind – one man who wants vengeance – one who wants to silence her about events long in the past – and one who only wants the truth.
But the truth is too ugly to share, so Lucinda keeps running…all the way to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado where she finds three other women struggling to start new lives. Deciding she’s finally found the home and family she so desperately needs, she puts her ill-gotten railroad shares to use, determined to make their crusty little town a place they can all call home. But it’s never that easy, and as her pursuers close in on her, Lucinda finds that her new start comes with a higher price, but a greater reward, than she ever expected.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: