It’s 1851 and Liza Fitzpatrick hasn’t heard a word from the man she became engaged to on the Oregon Trail over a year ago, and many in Oregon City doubt his very existence, until Matthew Dean stumbles in the door with the words “Who am I?”
This story had a few things going for it before I even began to read, with the amnesia storyline and Oregon Territory setting, and after reading reviews of it and learning that the author lives locally I was happy to give this debut novel a try. What I found was a little bit of a mixed bag.
Liza and Matthew are both endearing, as he agrees to help her bring in the crops to save her and her father’s claim just as long as she doesn’t expect marriage. There is danger lurking, however, as an unscrupulous man plots to marry Liza and to take the Fitzpatrick claim from her injured father using any means necessary. There is also the threat of those who attacked Matthew returning.
As Matthew slowly gets to know Liza, and Liza contends with the emotions she thought she had buried, they deal with issues of anger and abandonment. His very 1850’s attitudes are sometimes at odds with her feisty nature, adding authenticity and amusement for the reader. When they finally embrace, it is so very sweet. The epilogue is, in two words, downright adorable.
“Look, that’s more than enough wood for tonight, all right? I’ll help carry it.”
“Women doing manual labor,” he muttered.
“Life in the West,” she replied. (p.193)
As much as I enjoyed this story, my reading was thrown off a little by occasionally stilted dialogue and some abrupt transitions. The beginning of the story was very heavy on descriptive terms coming in threes, but this seemed to go by the wayside fairly quickly. I find myself wondering whether writing in a longer form than these Harlequins allow will help to iron them out, and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author to find out.
I’m disappointed that Harlequin is discontinuing the Love Inspired Historical line later this year, but I’m glad to have found Evelyn M. Hill’s debut. If you enjoy Historical Romance with a faith element, then this is a fun one to try. And that kitten on the cover? Yep, adorable.
His Forgotten Fiancee by Evelyn M. Hill |Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical, Dec. 2017 | paperback or ebook, 279 pages
This review is based on a paperback copy borrowed from my local library. All opinions expressed are my own.
Liza Fitzpatrick is stunned when her fiancé finally arrives in Oregon City—with amnesia. Matthew Dean refuses to honor a marriage proposal he doesn’t recall, and Liza is forced to consider he may not have loved her after all. But she needs his help now to bring in the harvest, and maybe she can help him remember…
Matthew is attracted to the spirited Liza, and as she tries to help him regain his old memories, the new ones they’re creating together start to make him feel whole. Even as he falls for her again, though, someone’s determined to keep them apart. Will his memory return in time to save their future?