Celia and I met on a writer's list some time ago and made a connection in that we both write romance that is non-erotic and focuses on the relationship and the issues surrounding the relationship. We chat often now on a list Celia helps to moderate only for non-erotic romance writers and readers. So when her first novel came out, I had to pick it up. Since I bought it on Ebook (although it is now in print, also), it sat waiting for when I found a better way to read them than on my desktop. A Netbook was my answer.
A disclaimer: I rarely read westerns. In fact this may be my first. Oh, I grew up watching John Wayne movies since Dad is such of fan and there are a few western movies I actually enjoy, but I've never been taken to pick up a western novel.
Be that as it may, I enjoyed following the Texas-set story of Cynthia Harrington, a typical wealthy daughter of a controlling father growing up with everything done for her, and Ricardo Romero, a hard-working rancher of Mexican and Comanche descent who rescues her from an arranged marriage. Ricardo is attracted to Cynthia's stubborn spirit but also seems somewhat intimidated by her. The interplay between the two, with a lot of back and forth "will it work" confrontations, is the basis of the story.
Behind that, there is beautiful western scenery, complete with horses and inside knowledge of ranching that was interesting for this town girl to learn. There's Texas history and conflict between the Mexicans and the Whites as they both work to build their ranches and lives sharing the Texas territory. It's handled well, showing the conflict on both sides as well as understanding and willingness to get along on both sides.
I was a bit iffy about the POV jumping from one character to another, but that's largely personal preference and it was easy to follow who was in charge at each moment so it didn't throw me. There were also a few POV segments from minor characters I wasn't sure was necessary, in particular Ricardo's mother. We get right away that Mrs. Romero does NOT want her son married to a "spoiled" white girl from East Texas and is overtly hostile. It's shown very well from Cynthia's POV so having the short scenes from the mother-in-law's view, also, felt somewhat repetitious. However, they were short and didn't bother anything to be there.
At times I wanted to bop Cynthia upside the head and tell her to stop being so distrustful and stop and SEE Ricardo as he was. Ricardo is a widely appealing hero, handsome and romantic, but also flawed enough to be human. Every character was well defined and I could almost see myself there getting to know the ranch employee wives along with Cynthia.
Anyone who enjoys western historical romance will enjoy this fun, quick-paced read. And be sure to check Celia's website for her soon-to-come "Showdown in Southfork" and her free reads at The Wild Rose Press. Don't skip over the photos of her native Texas while you're there!