Saturday, June 8, 2013
New Review: Kaki Warner’s BRIDE of the HIGH COUNTRY – 3rd in the Brides Trilogy is a Wonderful Finish!
This third in the Brides trilogy (Heartbreak Creek, Colorado Dawn and Bride of the High Country), is set in 1870 in New York and Heartbreak Creek, Colorado Territory. Lucinda Hathaway, the heroine, was a character in the first two books—one of the “brides.” This fact also presented a problem for Warner in telling Lucinda’s story because we’ve already seen her in Heartbreak Creek when her tale actually begins in New York in 1855. So there’s a bit of backtracking to cover ground covered before.
Lucinda was only twelve and an Irish orphan, saved from a life of prostitution by a priest who placed her in the home of a wealthy widow, Mrs. Throckmorton (an endearing character). There she was given a new and very proper name, Margaret Hamilton, and taught to behave like a distant relation of her benefactor (who would tolerate no Irish).
Fifteen years later, against the wishes of Mrs. Throckmorton, Margaret (aka Lucinda) decides to wed Irishman Doyle Kerrigan, a wealthy railroad investor who wants to leave all things “Irish” behind and join society. To do that, Doyle wants the kind of well-born young lady like Margaret. But Margaret has never forgotten her roots or that she is really Cathleen Donovan—an orphan from the Irish slums. (Got that? Our heroine has three names.) When, at their wedding, she suddenly discovers that Doyle was a “runner,” one who preyed on his fellow Irishmen, like her father, she runs from the wedding reception. Doyle sets his partner Tait Rylander on her trail telling him to look west. Tait is an ex-bare knuckled boxer and a brilliant man turned entrepreneur who owes Doyle for having saved his life. Tait has secretly admired and desired Margaret for over a year. Lucinda and Tait end up on the same train traveling west. Once he finds her, Tait tries to do the noble thing and bring her back to his partner. Of course, she won’t go back and insists she is now “Lucinda.”
This installment in the trilogy understandably overlaps with the first two books, even having some shared dialog in places. But still, this is very much Lucinda and Tait’s story and it is a joy. As with all Warner’s stories, it is well written with dry wit, intrigue, and action as Doyle hunts his errant bride and Tait is wounded and unable to protect Lucinda from her past. Tait and Lucinda are separated as Lucinda pursues her life alone in Heartbreak Creek—and finds the family she always longed for (much of that occurred in the first two books). Of all the three brides, Lucinda is the most wily, the most intelligent and the most streetwise. I loved that Tait accepted her just as she was, though her love of argument exasperated him at times.
At the end there is a touching scene with Thomas and Pru from the earlier books. I wanted to know more about the time Pru was captured by the Indian Lone Tree, but I guess that will have to wait for a later book. Which brings me to a last point. If you liked this trilogy, you’ll want to see how it ends in the Heroes of Heartbreak Creek trilogy that comes next, starting with Behind His Blue Eyes. It’s on my to read list!