Release Date: 06/27/17
Series: Emerald Belles, Book 2
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*
I read the previous book in this series, Honor Before Heart and I liked it – but this book, blows the first book away. This book is about Catriona O’Brian aka Cat (Ashlinn’s (from HBH) sister in law) and Corporal Patrick Fergusson aka Rick (Sean’s (from HBH) best friend).
The story starts in New York, Cat has learned the truth about Michael’s death and about the property he purchased in California. Cat has decided to go an stake her claim on the land and start a new life. Her marriage to Michael, though envied by many, was nothing short of a nightmare. She tells her dearest friends of the claims and they decide that since there are three claims, they will all go together. Deciding to celebrate, Cat goes to buy a bottle of wine and literally runs into Rick. She doesn’t know who he is and she gives him a set down.
Sean asks Rick to act as the ladies guide to California – he agrees because he feels that he owes Sean, but he dreads having to accompany “society ladies”, his past experience tells him that this will be an excruciating journey and doubts the ladies will be able to make the journey. He is shocked and delighted when he goes to visit Sean and finds Cat, the rather rude woman from the spirit shop – now he dreads the journey even more, because she is exactly the type of pampered princess he cannot abide.
They plan to leave in a week with an escort of armed men and the ladies belongings, but news comes that Ainsworth (the man that sold them the claim) has petitioned to reclaim the land as no one has claimed it, Cat is given until the middle of August to stake her claim or lose it. That means that they have less than two months to make the journey and there is no way it can be done with a wagon train. It is decided that Cat and Rick will go immediately by horseback and the others will follow.
These two set out, both with preconceived notions about the other and secrets from their past that have caused said notions. As they travel, they begin to realize how wrong they were and a friendship forms. They survive much together on this trek and their friendship and mutual respect blossom into love – but before they can start a future together – they must survive the cross country journey that is brimming with danger.
This book started out a little slow, but once Rick and Cat set out, the story takes off at a gallop and doesn’t slow down until the final page. The book has a bit of everything, social prejudice, a hero with PTSD, a heroine who has been abused, Indian attacks, bison, a crazy villain set on preventing Cat from staking her claim, tornadoes, some steamy love scenes and finally healing and acceptance.
I really loved this story and would highly recommend the book – it is the second in the series, but can easily be read as a stand alone title.