The Pages Flew By!! Sep 27, 2008
This is the first historical romance novel that I’ve read in years as I’ve been concentrating more on contemporary women’s fiction, but this story is quite different but it captured me and I enjoyed the author’s formal use of language to set the tone in this charming tale set during the Indian American war. I found myself thinking of the characters after I turned the last page and that’s always a sign of excellent writing and a great story.
Kate Whittington spent her early years as the daughter of the town whore – not very well taken care of and ostracized by “polite society”. When her mother realizes she can no longer take care of her, she abandons her on the steps of the local orphanage, where she grows to become an educated teacher, but trigger-shy about men, she remains unmarried but years for a family of her own but thinks that at almost 30, it may be too late. Then she spots an ad in a local newspaper placed by a man who lives far away in Texas, advertising for a mail-order bride.
This tale may have been told before but Jill Marie Landis creates a fine drama and enlivens this story with vivid characters and the wild frontier of Texas as a fine backdrop. There’s a twist to this story, the Texan that she thinks she’s been corresponding with doesn’t seem to know who she is and their first meeting is confusing but sets the stage for a battle of wills that neither is prepared for.
As in most romance novels, the attraction is almost immediate, but Landis takes the time to slowly build her characters so that you discover their personalities and their histories in such a way that you begin to understand how their lives have led them to each other.
We eventually learn that it was Reed, Sr. that wrote the letters to Kate, without his son knowing and her arrival comes at a bad time, or is it perfect timing? Reed, Jr. has recently discovered his son, Daniel, once abducted during an Indian raid on his property, where he wife was left injured and died shortly after. While embarking on another raid, he discovers that Daniel has been raised with the Indians and the boy does not wish to return to Lone Star with him, but Reed is not about to lose his son once again and forces him to return with him. Although sparks do fly between the two, the discovery of their marriage by proxy creates a difficult situation, but Kate decides to stay on as a housekeeper.
Her primary responsibility is to care for Daniel. Once Kate lays eyes on the adorable, but heart-broken little boy, she finds the stirrings of love that she has felt for students in the past. She starts trying to teach him English and cares for him, initially as a house keeper and later finds that she loves him with a mother’s heart.
Eventually Kate finds companionship with the local preacher and maybe her hopes of love and family aren’t lost when he professes his feelings for her. Can Kate put aside the feelings she has grown for Reed and instead plan a life with the minister? Will Reed let his second chance at love slip through his fingers? Jill Marie Landis keeps it very interesting as we find out the answer and we discover what love really means for all involved.
I was impressed with the breadth of this novel and Landis’ story telling talent. Once I got my head around the fact that this story is in a very specific genre, I was able to sustain my disbelief enough to get carried away in this story. I don’t know if I’m going to continue to read more historical romance, but I was intrigued to find that Jill Marie Landis has written some contemporary novels and I’m looking forward to reading Heat Wave to see how she handles a modern-day story.