Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Review: The Darkest Heart by Brenda Joyce - Enthralling Western Historical

This romance is connected to Brenda Joyce's Bragg saga, and specifically to the 5th installment, THE FIRES OF PARADISE, as it's the story of the hero's parents. (See full list below.)

I was really excited to read this Western historical as I loved FIRES OF PARADISE. In that book, the wonderful hero, Shoz Savage, who is part Apache, remembers his parents with great fondness and speaks of their continuing love for each other. So here we have their story...

Set in the New Mexico Territory in 1860, beautiful blonde Candice Carter, a rancher's daughter, has made a foolish decision, eloping with one of her suitors against the wishes of her father and brothers. But the man has no intention of marrying her; he is a despicable cad out to take her virtue. When she realizes he would rape her, she shoots him and flees. Dying in the desert, she is found by Jack Savage, a half-breed Apache, who brings her back to life. Though the attraction is immediate, Jack is honorable and intends to return her to her family unscathed. But when he is wounded, she steals his horse and leaves him. He will rescue her twice more before it's all over in this fast-paced romance that kept me up reading late into the night.

This is a great story of the American west where prejudices against Indians and children with Indian blood ran high. Joyce has done her research and portrays well the story of the Apache culture and the wars between Cochise and the white men who betrayed him. Our hero gets caught in the middle, being neither white nor red. Married to both an Apache and a white woman, he is torn. Joyce weaves a complex tale of love, lies and betrayal. It's a keeper and I highly recommend it.

The Darkest Heart is a prequel of sorts for Joyce's great Bragg Saga:

Innocent Fire, June 1988 (Derek Bragg and Miranda)
Firestorm, November (1988 Storm Bragg and Brett)
Violet Fire, May 1989 (Rathe Bragg and Grace)
Dark Fires, June 1991 (Nicholas Bragg and Jane)
The Fires of Paradise, April 1992 (Lucy Bragg and Shoz) - related to The Darkest Heart
Scandalous Love, November 1992 (Nicole Bragg Shelton and Hadrian)
Secrets, April 1993, 7th in the Bragg saga and 1st in the Delanza Series, (Regina Bragg Shelton and Slade Delanza)
After Innocence (the second in the Delanza series, Edward Delanza and Sophie)

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