Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Review: Rebecca Brandewyne’s LOVE, CHERISH ME: Captivating Saga of the American West, Texas Style

I have read a fair amount of romances (I have 350+ romance reviews on Amazon), and while I understand the current trend for short, snappy dialog with little history or details (even in the historical romances), frankly, after a few of those, I find myself wanting to dive into a well-researched, well-written saga that sweeps me away. I have a few authors I keep just for those times. Brandewyne is one. Yes, she doesn't hit it every time. Few do. But this romance, like her book, ROSE OF RAPTURE, will carry you to another time and place. You'll feel like you've lived it when the story ends. When I finished it, I found myself wanting a sequel. (Alas, there is no sequel, but AND GOLD WAS OURS gives us another glimpse of Storm and Wolf.)

Who could not love Wolf (El Lobo)? He is a man haunted by a past in which men seized lands and imposed cruel reigns in the process. We don't learn the complete story of Wolf's past until the end, but it's worth the wait. As for the heroine, Storm Lesconflair, the Belle of New Orleans, she starts out as an indulged 16-year-old given every advantage, but when her parents die, her life takes a plunge. She rises to every challenge life throws at her to become a beautiful woman of grace, intelligence and great depth. Their love is the love of legends.

The romance is divided into five "books" and spans the time period between 1848 to 1866. Except for the first chapter, which gives us a glimpse of the end, it is very logical in the way it proceeds. The first chapter shows us the present, 1866, and it's almost an epilogue that can be skipped till the end (I re-read it after the book). Then we are back at the beginning, in 1848, and Storm is being forced into an arranged marriage with a rich, cruel Texas rancher she doesn't love. On her way to meet him, her stagecoach is overtaken by a gang of outlaws and Storm is taken captive. She is then won in a card game by the gunslinger they call El Lobo, thought to be a half breed Indian, but a man all men fear and respect. The darkly handsome gunslinger, dressed in black and silver, seems to have honor and would give her freedom, but Storm prefers his company to the thieves and scoundrels in the bar. So she follows him.

The story unfolds as we travel from New Orleans high society of the mid 1800s to the Texas frontier to San Francisco and then back to Texas. Along the way, Brandewyne introduces us to some wonderful characters, including a group of Comanches who are Wolf's adopted family, and we get to learn about the Indian culture, which had much to teach the white man.

If you like romances that sweep you away and the story of love that conquers overwhelming odds, you will love this story. I HIGHLY recommend it. It's on my "keeper" shelf to be re-read in future.

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