No Way Up (The Cimarron Legacy, #1) by Mary Connealy (review)

nowayup_connealy_bethanyThe Fight for the Cimarron Ranch Has Just Begun!

When Cimarron Ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, only the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Before leaving by train to receive treatment to save his leg–and possibly his life–Chance demands that Heath read the patriarch’s will and see its conditions enforced immediately. If Chance’s three bickering adult children, Justin, Sadie, and Cole, don’t live and work at the ranch for an entire year, ownership of the ranch will pass to a despised distant relative.

Before long, however, Heath discovers that the avalanche may have been intentionally set–and that more danger lurks ominously. Finding his own future–and a desired future with Sadie–locked up in saving the Cimarron Ranch, Heath and the Boden siblings must work together against outside forces that threaten them all.

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I’ve only read a few books by Mary Connealy, but already I know to expect an opening scene that puts others to shame in terms of action.  This is no exception, with an avalanche serving to set up the circumstances that drive the plot for the remainder of the story.  And what a story it is.

Heath Kincaid is a hand at the Cimarron Ranch, and he’s looking to prove himself.  Having left the ranch he owns with his half brothers, the male protagonists from Connelly’s Kincaid Brides trilogy (and peripheral characters in the related novella The Runaway Bride) he spends a good deal of the novel coming to terms with the relationships he left behind.

What possessed me to want to climb a stupid mountain anyway?  Stubborness?  A chance to defy my brothers?  More time with Heath?  A death wish?”

“Did you say something?” Heath hollered.

“Nope, not a thing.”  Not a thing she wanted him to hear. (p.121)

Sadie Boden is forced to leave her teaching job at the local orphanage, when the terms of her father’s put Safe Haven’s funding in jeopardy unless she lives and spends a majority of her time on the Cimarron Ranch.  Grateful to Heath for saving her father’s life, she is quick to join him in his investigation of the avalanche.  As with Heath, it is her personal as well as spiritual growth and changing attitudes, that is a highlight of this novel.

It is in little moments that are part of the forming of Sadie and Heath’s relationship that I found a majority of the humor in this particular novel.  Most notably in the moments of Heath’s charming and modest embarrassment.

“…your skirt is missing.  That is, you don’t have a dress on.”  He jerked his eyes back to meet hers, cleared his throat.  “You do have pants, uh, trousers…”  He had a faint flush on his cheeks.

She’d managed to embarrass him half to death.

Good.  (p.94)

Along with the growing relationship between Sadie and Heath, as Heath calls on climbing skills he learned in a previous novel (reading the Kincaid Brides isn’t necessary to enjoy this story, but you very well may want to read them after) to help Sadie finally climb Skull Mesa, I enjoyed the return of characters from the prequel novella as well as new characters.  In particular, I appreciated the way native characters were portrayed in a manner that seemed, to my limited knowledge, authentic and respectful.

As a bit of an aside, I have a feeling about the identities of the love interests for Sadie’s brothers and I look forward to seeing if I matched them correctly as this trilogy continues.

I would easily classify the Mary Connealy books I’ve previously read as Christian Historical Fiction and, as the author herself describes them, “comedies with cowboys.”  In this novel, however, I saw less of the comedy (though perhaps that is just me, I didn’t see as much humor in Karen Witemeyer’s No Other Will Do either).  Instead, the thought that struck me quite quickly is that this is a Western. Not just historical fiction set in the Old West, but a Western with a capital W, so…

4/5 stars.  Recommended for those who enjoy Westerns set in the 1800’s, with clean romance and a bit of humor included.  I also recommend that you read the novella, The Boden Birthright, prior to reading this novel.  It is currently available as a free ebook through and other online retailers.

No Way Up (The Cimarron Legacy, #1) by Mary Connealy | Bethany House, July 2016 | paperback, 295 pages

This review refers to a free review copy, courtesy of the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.


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