Fall in love with the first book in the Blood Rose trilogy-a romance of the Old West by a phenomenal new talentI quite like historical romance and late 19th century is my favourite period to read about but I'll admit it - when I heard this book was about cowboys, I was a bit worried that would put me off so much that I wouldn't be able to enjoy the book properly - I'm just not a huge fan of cowboys and I've never seen a single Western film, but since I was offered a copy for review, I thought I might as well give it a go, why no. So guess what happened? I ended up loving the book - and swooing over the cowboy in question, ha!
On a stagecoach traveling through New Mexico Territory, Jessica Thornton is a long way from the cool mists and lush gardens of her native England. An authoress and milliner, she carries the weight of a scandalous secret - a horrible shame that has brought her to the West on a desperate search for the only family she can trust: her brother.
No one prepared Jessica for the heat and the hardships. And no one prepared her for a man like Brady Wilkins. For, despite the rancher's rough-hewn appearance and her own misgivings, Jessica must put her life in his hands after their stagecoach crashes. And she begins to see the man behind the callused hands and caustic wit. A man strong enough to carve out a home in the wilderness, brave enough to fight for his own, and passionate enough to restore her faith in herself - and in her heart.
As I mentioned above, the novel is set in the 19th Century and it mostly takes place on a ranch in New Mexico Territory. Our main characters, the primer and proper Englishwoman Jessica and our cowboy Brady, happen to travel on the same stagecoach and when it crashes, most of its passengers end up recovering on Brady's ranch, the Rosa Roja. Jessica has nowhere to go anyway until she finds her brother and so she quickly settles in at the ranch. She makes friends there, but as happy as she may be, there's still a dark cloud looming over her - she's carrying the child of the man who raped her. What will happen when people at the ranch find out about her shame? Meanwhile, Brady has some dark secrets too and he's trying to end the feud with a madman called Sancho, who ruined his family and he'll stop at nothing to ruin Brady too ...
Honestly, I loved this book. I never expected I'd enjoy reading about the life at a ranch so much, hehe, but I found myself completely sucked in into Jessica's story at settling in at the ranch and Brady's neverending feud with Sancho. I expect this is mainly to the fantastic writing (hats off, the book was really well written!) and the amazing characters that just felt so alive and real - that includes everyone from our main characters to the brothers, Sancho and everyone who worked at the ranch. The story isn't lacking either and it's not all rainbows and butterflies either - it gets quite gruesome at times and I was terrified of Sancho myself, eek. I enjoyed the sparkling chemistry between our main characters, I loved how they changed and developed throughout the book and I liked the twists and turns in their love story - although I have to say that even if someone was managing the cheese meter, the book had some seriously cheesy moments, heh; but that's alright, I suppose that comes with the territory of historical romance. :)
Overall, I have nothing but praise for this book and I'll admit it took me by surprise! Thus I was happy to hear that this was only the first book in the Blood Rose Trilogy - the second book, Open Country (left) is out already and the last one, Chasing the Sun (right) comes out in January 2011. Both books will focus on Brady's two brothers, Hank and Jack, but I hope we'll get to learn more about Jessica and Brady too! To learn more about the author and her books, visit her website, and you can definitely expect to see more of Ms Warner on this blog! :)
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 4/5
ps: Don't forget to watch the lovely trailer for the book!