by Joan Johnston
Page Count: 358
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
How got: personal library; bought @ local Hastings
First attention getter: it's genre
He May Be Her Only Hope.
She May Be His Last Chance
Miranda Wentworth never imagined becoming a mail-order bride. Now marriage to a stranger is her only hope of finding a home where she and her two younger brothers can escape the brutality of the Chicago orphanage where they live. With any luck, she can even start a family of her own, once the three of them are settled at Jacob Creed’s Texas ranch. But Miranda has one gigantic concern: Her husband-to-be knows nothing about the brothers she’s bringing along. What if he calls off the deal when he discovers the trick she’s played on him?
Jake Creed is hanging on to his Texas ranch by his fingernails. His nemesis, Alexander Blackthorne, is determined to ruin him. Jake will never give up, but he’s in desperate trouble. His wife died six months ago in childbirth, along with their stillborn son, and his two-year-old daughter needs a mother. The advertisement Jake wrote never mentioned his daughter—or the fact that he has no intention of consummating his marriage. He’s determined never to subject another wife to the burden of pregnancy. But Jake doesn't count on finding his bride so desirable. He doesn't count on aching with need when she joins him in bed. And he never suspected his bride would have plans of her own to seduce him.
Star Rating - 4
I’m glad I gave this series another chance. The first book of the series I read, Book 3, I abandoned as I hated the lead heroine and I felt the untruths went on for far too long. This one, Book 1, is far better in my estimation. It hits the spot perfectly for a western historical romance.
The whole mail-order bride/marriage of convenience thing has become a real weakness for me since starting to read historical romances more often. I loved it in this work as well. Both Miranda and Jacob come from hard-lived, tragic pasts that come with a ton of baggage. Their journey as a couple while dealing with those painful pasts made the book for me.
I liked that the author kept the secrets and misunderstandings to a minimum. Those aspects of historical romance drive me up the proverbial wall, and they seem to crop up in so many titles. The secrets of Miranda’s brothers and Jacob’s daughter come out real quick. Miranda’s sisters stay secret for a bit longer but their existence is learned only about half way through. So that’s not held over the story’s head until the very end, either. I liked that refreshing departure.
As unique individuals, Jacob and Miranda are strong and carry the story well. I liked their combinations of strength, heart, and vulnerability. They dealt with the issues and problems that came their way in realistic ways and developed as individuals as a result of those obstacles. The only chink in the books armor, occurred in this area, though. There were times where Miranda read as too perfect: beautiful, strong, courageous, a bit vulnerable, willing to sacrifice her life for others, hard-working, and sweet. While those aren’t bad in and of themselves, they do stand out starkly if not balanced with a few sins.
I loved the chemistry between Jacob and Miranda as well. There’s definitely a ton of tension of the sexual variety present. Yet, due to Jacob’s no pregnancy rule, the amounts of sexual encounters are lower than one would imagine for a western historical romance. I actually liked that; it left lots of room for the development of their emotional connection. I loved seeing that develop, even if it did over such a short time period that the book takes place during. They seemed to balance each other out so well, filling holes in their souls with each other’s love.
Like I mentioned, I’m glad as heck I gave this author and series another chance. Her characters and romance make the story shine. Even though there are a few romantic clichés and too-perfect characterizations, overall they are not as present as they could have been. I’d definitely recommend this title to lovers of historical romance, especially of the Western variety. I look forward to reading more books by this author.