I was in the mood for a simple historical romance, after reading several contemporary books, and Maggie Brendan’s new book was the perfect choice.
Start off with a rancher/cattle baron doing a favor for a friend by throwing a dance hall girl over his shoulder and taking her home to his grandmother and I am hooked. But then it gets better. Though Rachel is an independent Miss who was working in the saloon out of necessity, John considers himself a sort of guardian and encourages a likely young cowboy to court her. As a reader, I know it is just a matter of time before John starts to realize that he’d rather court Rachel himself, but it is so much fun watching him realize he’s messed up. What usually isn’t so much fun is her reaction, but Brendan doesn’t always go for the expected. Instead, in Rachel we get a heroine who doesn’t require huge and sudden revelations and that is where her character shines. Of course she is friendly to the “soiled doves” she worked with, of course not everyone will approve, and of course she is feeling a little bitter, given her circumstances. But she takes this all in stride, doing what she feels is right and owning up to her failings.
Nothing is over the top in this sweet romance. It has a nice, brisk pace and a comfortable feel to it. Yes, it has its bits of excitement and even some romantic rivalry, but it somehow has such a cozy feel that it just leaves me smiling. One of it’s strengths, I think, is the portrayal of faith as integral to the lives of the main characters. It, and they, feel authentic and real. Rachel doesn’t need to be hit over the head with the fact that she is feeling bitter and needs to get right with God, she is aware and simply works through each obstacle.
This was my first Maggie Brendan novel, though I’ve had her other novels in and out of my online shopping baskets many times. It won’t be my last.
3.5/5 stars, recommended for when you need a sweet, clean historical romance – particularly if you are being kept up until 3am by horn-happy train drivers and a noisy upstairs neighbor (sigh). While this is the second in a series, it was not at all apparent.
Oh, and the “mean girl” of the story, Beatrice (a bit of a Nelly – a character I hated when the Little House shows first aired, but think might now be my favorite), while a bit obnoxious, just made me want more of her story. Hint, hint…
A Sweet Misfortune (Virtues and Vices of the Old West #2) by Maggie Brendan | Revell, February 2016 | paperback 336 pages
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”