very tall, statuesque
ex-soldier Booker Hayes is on a desperate
search for his niece: his only remaining relative since his sister and
brother-in-law were taken by the Influenza. His trek leads him to
the hell that is a 19th century New York city orphanage, but he comes away empty-handed
when he discovers his young ward has been sent out west for
Coulson is willing to help people to the point of letting them walk all
over her. The townsfolk, assuming she'll do anything for charity
since she's an old maid, ask her to organize a meal for some
recently-arrived orphans and their prospective new families. Thea
agrees and her tender heart, which goes out to anyone in need, now aches for
unwanted six year old mute and crippled Zoe Galloway. The older
woman bonds with the tow-headed child and offers to take her in, hoping against hope that somehow she'll be allowed to keep
dreams of motherhood are dashed when Zoe's uncle arrives at her Nebraska
home and takes the child away to his own piece of land nearby.
Realizing he can't build a house and business while watching over Zoe at
the same time, Booker offers a compromise to Thea: be his housekeeper and take care of Zoe for him.
Willing to do anything to be closer to Zoe and Booker, Thea takes on the
job. But tongues start wagging, and Major Hayes decides to offer his
lovely housekeeper marriage in order to
save her reputation from the bitter town tabbies. Though she yearns for more,
Thea accepts his proposal and becomes his wife-in-name-only.
begins to brew when Booker's friend and ex-army buddy, a Native American
by the name of Red Horse, joins the Hayes family in a whites-only hotel
dining parlor, which leads to a shooting at their homestead and threats of
jail-time (or worse) for Booker from the bigoted Marshal and townsfolk.
Will Booker and Thea survive the dangers of the western frontier long
enough to be able to see past their marriage of convenience and realize the love they have for each other?
worked for me:
and Booker were an enjoyable couple and easy to feel sympathetic with.
In addition to having such a warm and tender romance they managed to stir up some
pretty good sparks between them in some rather steamy love scenes.
Tall blonde Thea (think supermodel Emme) felt uncomfortable with her height at the beginning of the story but
gradually overcame her feelings as she began to trust Booker.
What didn't work for me:
was fairly predictable; you have a pretty good idea who the villain is and
how (s)he will be unmasked.
This was a very
pleasant read. The story is well-written, features a large cast of
interesting characters, and provides enough small details to give an authentic
frontier flavor. Fans of Western Historicals should enjoy this one.
If you liked "Land of Dreams" you might also enjoy
"The Bride of Willow Creek",
"A Country Christmas",
"No Ordinary Princess",
"The Bluebird and the Sparrow", or
Hero's Best Friend".
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