Monday, April 19, 2010

OPEN COUNTRY by Kaki Warner

Publisher: Berkeley
Date published: June 2010
ISBN: 978-0-425-23430-3
Historical Romance, Western Romance
Obtained via Publisher
Reviewed by Gina

Summoned to her dying sister’s side Molly McFarland suddenly finds herself on the run with her young niece and nephew. She never did trust her sister’s second husband and what little she learns from the children convinces her she needs to run far and fast to keep them safe. Making her way west her life takes yet another tumble during a train derailment. When she hears the railroad will pay widows three hundred dollars in compensation for deceased family members she latches on to Hank Wilkins when the doctor says he isn’t long for this world. The settlement money will help keep her and the children for a time to come. When Hank doesn’t die, thanks to her careful nursing, she finds herself married to a man she doesn’t know. Her plans to explain things to Hank go awry when older brother Brady arrives and gives her a choice – return to RosaRoja with him and continue to care for Hank or face jail for committing fraud. Fear for the children sends her home with Hank and Brady where she quickly finds herself caring more and more for the injured man. Drawn more and more to Hank she knows she needs to tell him what she has done. Before she can explain her world comes crashing down around her and the children – her sister’s husband has sent someone after her, the Wilkins mine collapses and Hank learns of her deception before Molly can tell him. Faced with the prospect of losing a man she never thought to have Molly has to trust in Hank’s sense of right and wrong. But will he listen before it’s too late for Molly and the children?

There were some issues with OPEN COUNTRY that hopefully were resolved before the book is finalized. Aside from a few typos and missing punctuation, there were leaps in the story that seemed to come from nowhere. Molly takes off with the children without a second thought. They pack up and leave in the middle of the night and no one seems to notice. There is no introspection on how she feels about suddenly finding herself the mother of two young children. The train derailment was an interesting vehicle to bring Hank and Molly together, but the why is never quite explained. It seemed like the author needed to get the couple together and this was the most expedient way to get them there.

That said, Hank Wilkins is one of the most compelling, keep you up at night wishing he was yours, hero I’ve read in a long time. I’ve read some good ones the past few months, but he’s the one I kept picking up the book to go back to. He’s all my childhood western heroes rolled into one strong, silent, man. I felt his anger and anguish at what he felt was Molly and his brother, Brady’s betrayal. I ached for him when he fought to regain his memory and the realization of why he had none to recall. I liked Brady in Pieces of Sky, but he paled to Hank’s character in OPEN COUNTRY.

Western fans will totally enjoy this series, but you don’t have to be a devotee of western romance to love this series. Ms. Warner writes characters for all times. If you are looking for heroes to fall in love with and women to be reckoned with, Pieces of Sky and OPEN COUNTRY should head your list.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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