Heartbreak Creek

A Runaway Brides Novel, #1

The life Edwina Ladoux knew was gone. The war had done it. Now, her beloved south was full of carpetbaggers and ruffians. Her husband, father and brothers are dead and now, she's loosing her home for back taxes. Knowing this day was coming, Edwina applied to be a mail order bride. The only thing coming with her to her new life is her half sister, Pru.

Pru is the daughter of one of the plantation's slaves and Edwina's father. He loved Pru's mother but such a love was not meant to be. Pru, however, was given her freedom and was raised with Edwina, angering Edwina's mother. The girls are devoted to each other and though Edwina knows Pru will not agree with her becoming a mail order bride, Pru will still come with her.

Declan Brodie is a widower with four children. He needs a practical helpmate and those are hard to find in Heartbreak Creek , Colorado . With that knowledge, he makes arrangements to marry by proxy to a mail order bride, Edwina Ladoux. What he doesn't know is Edwina is anything but a sturdy farm woman. Edwina doesn't even know how to cook, much less help on a ranch!

Edwina and Declan agree on a three-month courtship period in order to get to know each other. Soon, Edwina is learning to cook thanks to Pru and her influence is making its way into the Brodie's family's life style.

Suddenly, Edwina realizes that she's changed and more than the fact she's now called Ed. She looks for Declan's rare smiles. She enjoys planning things for the children. Could she be falling in love with her husband and his family?

This is the first book in Ms Warner's new series, Runaway Brides. I thoroughly enjoyed her previous series, Blood Rose Trilogy, and hoped this one would be just as good. I shouldn't have worried.

The characters are outstanding. Ed comes across as a stubborn southern woman who not only knows how to endure hardship but knows how to overcome it. She refuses to let things get her down brightening the day of everyone around her. She also insists on righting those things she sees as wrong such as people looking down on Pru due to the color of her skin. Pru is smart and beautiful. She's also well aware that most of the world will see her skin color and make assumptions before taking the time to meet her. Pru's dream is to teach the freed slaves how to read and write to enable them to function well in the world and to dream of becoming more than they presently are. Declan knows that he was part of his first wife's problem. He concentrated more on his ranch than his wife. It was no surprise to him that she started cheating on him and then finally left him. He vows that he will do better with his second wife but his ranch is still really important to him.

Added into this wonderful mix of characters is Lone Tree, an Arapaho Indian. Lone Tree blames Declan for the death of his wife and child and wants revenge. He doesn't care who he hurts to get this revenge either.

The western setting was as well done as the characters. Heartbreak Creek is a mining town that is quickly heading to being a ghost town. The mine is playing out and people are leaving. Yet, it is the closest town to Declan's ranch. The town may be saved if it can convince the railroad to move the tracks from a frequently washed out area to going through Heartbreak Creek. However, water is the problem. The water in Heartbreak Creek isn't fit to drink due to all the chemicals in it from the mines. It's also not fit for a train engine.

I have to admit that this story may be Ms Warner's best to date. It drew me in quickly and just as quick entangled me into the lives, problems and loves of the characters. I shouldn't have started it just before I went to bed as I had no desire to put it down which caused me to stay up much later than I usually do. The next day, I brought it to work and as much as I love my customers, I definitely wasn't happy to see them while I was reading! This story had me, hook, line and sinker!

This interesting historical western romance is a must read. This fast paced story captures the imagination and leaves you wanting more. Thankfully as this is the first book in a series, more are coming!

Book Blurb for Heartbreak Creek

First in a wonderful new historical series starring four unlikely brides who make their way West.

Edwina Ladoux hoped becoming a mail-order bride would be her way to a better life, but as soon as she arrives in Breakheart, Colorado, and meets Declan Brodie and his four rambunctious children, she realizes she's made a mistake. Luckily, Edwina and Declan agreed on a three- month courtship period, which should give them time to get the proxy marriage annulled. Except that as the weeks pass, thoughts of annulment turn into hopes for a real marriage-until Declan's first wife suddenly returns.

Night Owl Reviews Jun, 2011 5.00