*This is just my opinion, my personal take on any given book, use as a reference. I will not be overly gushing. I will also endeavor not to give too much of the plot away.
I will not hand out 4 star ratings for every book, or try not to.*
Also let me state again, I am reviewing books as I read them, not always new releases. In fact, very rarely will they be 'new' releases.
Harlequin Historical December 2009 280 pages
Let me state right here, that I think western historicals are not given the respect they deserve, but that is reflection for another blog post.
I read my first Cheryl St. John western "Saint or Sinner" almost 2 years ago, when I got a bag full of used romances. I am fairly new to the romance genre, only in the last 3 years, surprising since I will admit to advanced middle age.
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To the story, it is a pleasant read. The heroine, Mariah comes from a big, loving, beer-brewing family. But she has a secret. To save face when she finds herself pregnant at 18, she is bundled off to Chicago by her grandfather and the rest of the town and family is told she married a man and had a child (done often back in the Victorian/old west age, I am sure)
Now 24, the 'fictional' husband is coming from his Alaskan Gold Rush adventures to see his 'son'.
Mariah is mortified. This lie concocted by her grandfather has taken on a life of its own.
I won't go into details how the hero, Wesley Burrows becomes this fictitious husband/father, but Mariah son's letters move the lonely man so deeply, he comes to Colorado to see the boy.
I have read a couple of reviews that say Wes Burrows is almost too good to be true. Maybe. But I found it a breath of fresh air to read about a man who was not brooding, tortured, standoffish. Yes, this from me, Ms. dark/brooding. Wes is simply...lonely. His upbringing even more starkly lonely, the whole foundling home gambit. But Wes being hungry for love and acceptance works here. And makes your heart melt.
Wes is such a nice guy, (and tall, broad shouldered and handsome to boot) that Mariah's close-knit family quickly takes to him, giving him a job in the brewery. Mariah's son John James is also taken with him, and this just flummoxes Mariah more.
A sub-plot about the real father telegraphed itself faster than a pony express rider, but, I generally do not let that interfere with my enjoyment in reading.
The story envelopes you in such warm-hearted, family feeling, that the sometimes imperfect plot will not matter in the least. Love the details in her family's cooking, big, sprawling German meals that Wes immediately takes to, he never had big family dinners before. Awwww.
And Wes is kind, loving, handsome, passionate...everything a western hero should be. But also a rugged adventurer, as he relates in his Alaskan tales.
This was a sweet story, as warm and comfortable as a calico blanket.
3 out of 4 stars
KOVER KUDOS: Harlequin gets 4 big stars here with this cover. The models fit Cheryl's descriptions exactly, even down to the clothes they wore in the dance scene. The hanging lanterns are a nice touch.
Also, the male model. I know, here I go. He is drop-dead handsome, and that wistful, 'love-me-I'm-lonely' look on his face says it all for this book. Great cover.