I'm doing something a little different today. I'm posting a review of a book I've read recently. I was extremely lucky to get to read an advance copy of Tera Shanley's An Unwilling Husband in exchange for an honest review. I consider myself even luckier because Hearts In Harmony is sharing a release date with this awesome historical novel, set in a small town in Texas.
Will a child of Society have the backbone to love a tough, wild west cowboy?For adventurous Margaret Flemming, arrived from Boston to be with her father, the Old West town of her childhood is a far cry from the drawing rooms and balls of the high society life she’s used to. Her fancy gowns and proper manners have no place in the dusty, cruel land inhabited by Indians and rough cowboys. And her fiercely independent streak constantly gets her in trouble. When tragedy strikes, there’s only one person she can turn to--her childhood friend, Garret Shaw--but he’s disgusted with her Society ways.
With his ranch under attack from the land-grabbing Jennings, the last thing Garret needs is to be saddled with a high-falutin’ lady. Even if she is his friend’s daughter and her kind ways tug at his hardened heart. Duty to her father forces them to wed, but he knows sure as anything, when the chance comes along, she’ll go back to Boston. No matter how much he wants her, loving her is not a risk he can take.
Will Maggie choose a life of luxury and ease over struggle and hardship with an ill-mannered cowboy? Only her heart can answer.
CONTENT WARNING: A potty-mouthed proper lady, a reluctant bridegroom and all kinds of trouble.
I have to tell you I don't typically read westerns. It isn't that I don't like them, I just spend most of my extra time reading contemporary. But I do love a love story. If you're like me, I'd heartily advise you to break your pattern, and do it with An Unwilling Husband. Without further ado- here's my review (yeah, I know that rhymed).
Uprooted from an existence she despises in Boston, Margaret Fleming launches in a new direction in the only place that's ever felt like home, her father's ranch in Rockdale, Texas. On her way to the new life waiting for her there, she shortens her name to Maggie and promises to make every moment with her father count. Unfortunately, due to a set of tragic circumstances, her time with her dad is cut short, and she finds herself hitched to Garrett Shaw, her unwilling husband.
Maggie and Garrett knew each other as young adults, and Maggie has known for a long time she loves Garrett. But the man he is now is worlds away from the boy she fell in love with. And she only wants a place in a family. Garrett, in the meantime tries valiantly to resist getting too attached to Maggie. This is due, in part, to abandonment issues that stem from Maggie being torn from her home in Rockdale when they were younger. She didn't want to go and wasn't even allowed to say goodbye, something that rankles Garrett still. Silly man.
Tera has an exceptional talent for characterization, and the voices of her hero and heroine resonated clearly in my head as I read of the trials of life in the old West on a cattle ranch. Her villains (there are always villains, and the Jennings family, every single member of the family, gets involved in trying to ruin the new couple) were dastardly and believable. The passages that deal with the hard scrabble life this civilized lady from Boston chooses were both moving and frightening. Tera's true strength lies in using those situations to move the book forward and to build the romantic tension between Maggie and Garrett.
The writing is strong and solid in this book, exactly like I'd imagine a man and woman who choose the difficult life of cattle ranching would need to be. Tera's unique voice in sharing this story brought a smile to my face many times while I read. I can only hope there will be a sequel or a spin-off to come. Because I know that once I finished the book, I did not want to put it down.
I give this book a well-deserved 5 Sunflower rating.
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Tera Shanley writes in sub-genres that stretch from Paranormal Romance, to Historic Western Romance, to Dystopian (zombie) Romance. The common theme? She loves love! A self-proclaimed bookworm, she was raised in small town Texas and could often be found decorating a table at the local library. She currently lives in Dallas with her husband and two young children and when she isn't busy running around after her family, she's writing a new story or devouring a good book. Any spare time is dedicated to chocolate licking, rifle slinging, friend hugging, and the great outdoors. For more information about Tera and her work, visit www.terashanley.com or find her on Facebook