Robbing a stagecoach on Christmas Eve and kidnapping a woman passenger is the last thing Luke Sullivan expects to do. He just wanted to reclaim the money stolen from him, but ends up with a feisty copper-haired orphan thrown over his shoulder who was on her way to marry Sullivan's bitter enemy.
Emily McCarthy is an orphan out of options. Forced to marry because she was too old for her orphanage, she doesn't take kindly to her "rescue." Still she trusts God can turn any situation to good especially when it seems Sullivan may just be the man of her dreams. But Sullivan's crossed a dangerous man unused to losing and Emily may just be the prize he's unwilling to sacrifice.
I once took a class during my graduate studies on the US Westward movement and how the public tends to romanticize the west. One of our assignments was to read a classic western novel. I chose to read one by Louis L'Amour and when I finished it, I deemed it to be pretty much a romance novel for a guy. Honestly, almost every western story I've read has been like that. Cowboys fighting Indians, a duel, stagecoach robberies, and a saloon with a bar fight seem to be the staples in these stories. That's exactly what this book gives, a traditional western story.
Emily is an interesting character right from the beginning of the story. Her situation is unusual and the circumstances she is placed in is very intriguing. I don't know if I could have been a mail order bride especially to someone I had absolutely no prior contact with. I found it interesting she completely trusted her seniors and even though she was being sent out for marriage, she didn't question them at all. Luke is a cowboy who's out for revenge and seeking justice for the death of his father. As fate would have it, the two characters meet up in a chance situation and soon become stuck with one another. The banter between the two in the beginning of the story is both humorous and endearing.
It's just sad to say that about halfway through the book, I just stopped caring for the characters. I didn't lose interest in the story but it became very predictable as to what was going to happen. I didn't see any huge conflict that could drive apart Emily and Luke so even though they would get separated at times, I always knew they were going to eventually reunite. I just didn't buy their love story because it happened VERY fast that they fell in love. Also, right from the beginning, I did not like Luke because of the way he treated Emily. He was acting in the stereotypical male lead of a romance story who thinks he's all big and bad and doesn't listen to what the woman has to say and always has to be right. I think the biggest kicker was him throwing Emily over shoulder in the beginning of the book like a sack of potatoes even though she clearly doesn't want to go with him. Not a good way for me to start liking you.
There's also quite a big of Christian talk throughout the book and sometimes I found it to be a bit heavy handed. Not a problem for some readers, but if you're coming in strictly for a western romance, it's a bit pushy at times. Overall, the story is interesting, but I just don't think it's for me. It might have to do with my dislike for western stories in general. If you are a fan, I do think you will like the book. There's lots of action to keep you interested. I just didn't think it was the book for me.
The Vigilante's Bride by Yvonne Harris is published by Bethany House (2010)
This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
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