Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Review: Kaki Warner’s PIECES OF SKY – 1st in the Blood Rose Trilogy Worthy Western Historical from New Mexico Territory

This is the first in Warner’s Blood Rose trilogy, named after the roses that surround the RosaRoja ranch owned by the three Wilkins brothers in New Mexico Territory. Set in 1869, this is the story of Jessica Thornton, on the run from her home in England and the brother-in-law who raped her and left her pregnant with his child. She is trying to get to the only man she trusts—her brother.

At a stagecoach stop Jessica encounters Brady Wilkins, oldest of the Wilkins brothers. He’s just taken a spill from his horse and looks beat up, and to Jessica, talks rough. But she does love his blue eyes, which appear to her like pieces of sky. Brady finds the Englishwoman’s strange ways funny (their exchange and Jessica’s thinking are very funny)—and he hasn’t laughed in years. And then came the stagecoach crash…

Both Jessica and Brady have scars; and each has sacrificed their own happiness for others. Both are bound by duty, and though from different worlds, inexplicably drawn to each other. I loved their exchanges, her dry wit, his suggestive banter. Warner writes beautifully, expressively (“Like a blind foal on a short lead, Brady knew he would stumble along wherever he was led—as long as she was on the other end of the rope.”)

In this and the two stories that follow, there’s lots of action, a despicable nasty villain and a fair amount of violence (sometimes told through flashbacks that bring the horrible to mind). There’s the budding romance between two unlikely people to add sweetness, but this is no sweet love story. It’s a tale of vengeance.

Warner’s style is unusual, complex and detailed. She gives you the gory details when it comes naturally to the story. She slowly develops her characters like a stew simmering all day on the stove. The three brothers and their interactions are priceless and very well written. This first book also has some great humor early on as Jessica, a very proper British lady, encounters Brady, the rough American rancher and domineering older brother.

Most of the three stories take place on the sprawling RosaRoja ranch. Warner paints vivid word pictures of the historic setting and the environs that give you a sense of the rugged, open West and make you feel like you’ve lived there.

You’ll have to be patient as each story unfolds, but I think you’ll find the wait is worth it. All the stories are related with several common characters, including the brothers. Warner does a great job of tying up all the loose ends in the last book, Chasing The Sun.

Here’s the Blood Rose trilogy—do read them in order:

Pieces of Sky (RITA winner for Best First Book) – Jessica and Brady
Open Country (RITA finalist) – Molly and Hank
Chasing the Sun – Daisy and Jack

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