I like series from Connealy. The characters are quirky and fun. The poetic mountain men, who waxed so eloquent, were a riot. There were times I laughed out loud. Yet there is some depth to this novel too.
This is a sequel to Tried and True but it reads very well on its own. (You can read my review of that book here.) The three Wilde sisters came out west in that book, dressed as men, to get and maintain homesteads, pushed by their father. Now, in this novel, Kylie is married, Bailey is a rancher and Shannon has a ranch too, with sheep.
As this novel opens, Shannon happens to be walking up in the hills when Matthew Tucker comes crashing down the hill – an angry bear coming down right after him. Seeing the bear, Shannon grabs Tucker, who is bruised and bleeding, and jumps off the cliff, into the most dangerous river around. They manage to survive the treacherous water by catching a snag and crawling into a coal tunnel. They ultimately find their way out days later and get rescued. But all is not well. Shannon's reputation has been compromised, being with a man all those nights. The parson insists they wed. But they've only known each other five days (and innocent nights). Oh, there is trouble ahead. That's the fun part.
The serious part has two aspects. One is Gage, a land owner who wants Shannon's land and the water on it. He'd not anticipated homesteaders coming to all the land he had taken for himself years ago. Shannon and her hold on the water was preventing him from making the most of his range land. The tension in this novel has its roots in the previous one.
There is another very series issue – someone is burning out homesteaders. It seems only a matter of time before Shannon and Tucker will be targeted. Will Tucker be able to protect the woman he loves?
We learn a bit about homesteading too, especially land use in general. Gage is concerned because many of the homesteaders are not properly using the land and it will be useless by the time they give up and leave.
The only thing that makes this novel less than perfect is the ending. It just went way too fast and did not seem in the same rhythm as the rest of the novel. Also, Shannon's actions at the end did not seem consistent with her character through the rest of the novel.
And there is a misquoting of Genesis 2:24 (Eph. 5:31) at the end of the novel that bothers me. That verse is used to convince another of “biblical” action. If that verse had been quoted correctly, the novel would have had to end differently in order to be “biblical.”
This is a pretty good novel but I feel it does have its problems. Most of the novel was very enjoyable. It was just the last chapter that had the problems.
Mary Connealy writes romantic comedies about cowboys. She has been nominated for a Christy Award, was a finalist for a RITA Award, and is a two time winner of the Carol Award. She and her husband live in eastern Nebraska. They have four grown daughters. You can find out more at www.maryconnealy.com, www.mconnealy.blogspot.com, www.seekerville.blogspot.com, and www.petticoatsandpistols.com.
Bethany House, 336 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.