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~Land of Dreams~

by Cheryl  St. John

      Heroine:  very tall, statuesque

     Handsome 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 adoption. 

     Good-natured Thea 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 her. 

     Thea's 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.

     Trouble 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?  

What worked for me:

     Thea 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:

     The plot 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 "Wishes", "The Bride of Willow Creek", "A Country Christmas", "Beckett's Birthright", "No Ordinary Princess", "The Bluebird and the Sparrow",  or "The Hero's Best Friend".

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