Love can lead you out of the wilderness…
1851, Overland Trail to California. As a baby, Callie was left on the doorstep of an isolated farmhouse in Tennessee. The Whitaker family took her in, but have always considered her more a servant than a daughter. Scorned by her two stepsisters, Callie is forced to work long hours and denied an education. But a new world opens to her when the Whitakers join a wagon train to California—guided by rugged Luke McGraw…
A loner, haunted by a painful past, Luke plans to return to the wilderness once his work is done. But he can’t help noticing how poorly Callie is treated—or how unaware she is of her beauty and intelligence. As the two become closer over the long trek west, Callie’s confidence grows. And when disaster strikes, Callie emerges as the strong one—and the woman Luke may find the courage to love at last…
Hmm. What to say about this book? I liked some things and wasn’t so sure about others, but I think I’ll just do some dot points:
- This is not a great romance as such. The romance is largely a background situation, and what is at the forefront – and what I really enjoyed – was the long, terrible, difficult journey taken across America in a wagon train in the mid-nineteenth century.
- This is a Cinderella story, so you have to expect some of the clichés that come with it. One of my pet hates is the blonde beauty who is – of course – a stupid bitch. We definitely have that in this book. We also top it off with the romance genre’s other favourite cliché: the gorgeous blond man who is also the villain.
- However, almost everyone redeems themselves and does a totally turnaround. It was a little too perfect for me.
- What I worried was a whole lot of misogyny at first turned into something different by the end, so I appreciated that. Too often the romance genre forgets women shouldn’t be enemies! I liked little sentences here and there like: Callie looked forward to these wash days when the women could get together.
- However, what kind of woman’s name is “Florida”?! Maybe it was used in America back then…?
- Again, I really enjoyed the research that went into the hardships of the time. This isn’t the stuff you learn in school in other countries.
- I do think that putting the romance into the background meant we missed some big opportunities for emotional events. A back-from-the-dead situation should not be so straightforward and easily resolved with rational conversation!
I did enjoy some things about this book, but it felt a bit old-fashioned in tackling topics (and if you’re looking for a steamy romance, you’ll be disappointed – this is fade to black!). Stories based on fairy tales seem to trouble me more and more these days because characters come in types rather than being well-rounded.
However, I found the history of the period well-researched and fascinating.
So, good and bad in this one.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.