The Story: Stubborn Lucy Marsh is not about to watch her family fall apart – no matter if her materialistic funds seem all but gone. Her job as a seamstress may have been taken away but she is not about to let that stop her from seeing that the two young siblings left in her care are taken care of. Following the recent death of their father, Lucy realizes that she won’t be able to continue paying rent even in their small lodgings if she cannot find another job and so it seems an answer to prayer when out of nowhere Texan cattle baron Henry Stanton turns up on her doorstep with a proposition: Marry his son. Skeptical about his proposal, Lucy realizes that Stanton’s past friendship with her father seems reason enough to leave behind Ohio and start life afresh – and when a man breaks into her home looking for something Lucy doesn’t know she possesses, the decision seems all the clearer.
Nate Stanton is not a man with marriage on his mind. His ranch is his first – and only priority, as is his desire to see his father’s dream of an “empire” realized. When his father returns to Texas after a “business trip” with a bride for Nate in tow, Nate is furious! But since his father had his signature to do business on his behalf and he is now married to the petite, pretty blond by proxy, leaving Nate with few options.
As Nate and Lucy try to reach compromise and get to know one another with two children to care for, they find Lucy’s father was being used – and a thief now wants his treasure back.
My Thoughts: Originally published under the name, The Cattle Baron’s Wife, this novel was recently re-released under a new name, and presumably with some new, up-to-date editing techniques and the like, put into practice. I used to think that I liked novels set in the old Wild West more than other genres but now, I think that opinion has shifted. Most of the time the sub-genre within Christian fiction is really cute but a couple of years ago I read an author who was new to me (she primarily writes exclusively that genre), but her writing did not much mesh with my preferred type of book. This novel is not a “bad” one by any means but it is also not as griping as I wanted it to be – I wanted to like it more than my conclusions allowed in the end.
As a story, this book is really cute; it was the writing I took most issue with. Although unusual for me since I have found more than one of Colleen’s books to be on my “keeper” shelf. For me, disregarding its olden times setting, I think the novel was still too… dated. The artwork was stunning and looked “modern” but the writing came across as too simplistic to be really compelling. Contradicting myself in that statement, the story does get its point across in a plain, simple but lovely way (it has a message that love can emerge from less-than-ideal settings) and is mainly akin to the likes of Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly. Having said that, the characters are likable and there is a decent mystery surrounding the true reason Lucy is being targeted. Nate is as noble as any hero while Lucy is a different story altogether. It is a tricky business to balance out a heroine who is both strong but yet knows her limitations – and it is a skill in and of itself. Here, it is almost as if the author could not quite decide what she wanted her to be. At times, Lucy’s independent nature makes us cheer with joy and yet, she was a female who relished the need and love of a husband, and then there were times (rare though they were) when she was a sniffling female who didn’t seem to know the first thing about seeing to her own well-being.
This isn’t a “bad” novel by any means. I have always admired Coble’s writing (Lonestar Sanctuary or Lonestar Secrets) but this particular story definitely lacks her usual signature. If you are a fan of Little House on the Prairie, Janette Oke or any western fiction, then this is worth the time but if you are a Coble fan, know that her prior books are much more substantial – not to mention memorable. She is better than this.
In Summary: Cute with a nice happy-ever-after is how best to categorize this one. Just don’t expect the usual quality Coble is known for.