Friday, July 8, 2016

REVIEW: In the Shadow of the Mountains by Rosanne Bittner

In the Shadow of the Mountains
by Rosanne Bittner

Publisher: Fanfare
Page Count: 640
Release Date: June 1, 1991
Format: Mass Market Paperback

How got: personal buy; used bookstore

First attention getter: the author, already loved her!


From GoodReads:


In one magnificent family burned the vision that built a great American city. They were the Kirklands: David--the brave, big-hearted mountain dreamer who risked his life to stake a claim to a new life in the rugged Colorado Rockies; Beatrice--the ambitious, strong-willed matriarch who sacrificed her girlish dreams for the perils and hardships of an unknown, untamed wilderness; Irene-the beautiful young woman who shared her father's passion for the land and ached for the one man she was forbidden to love; Elly--the scheming daughter who vowed to possess the family fortune and the man she worshipped above all else; John-the desperate son who struggled to escape his mother's domination and carve out his own life.


Bold, headstrong, and passionate, the indomitable Kirklands struggled to survive in a treacherous, hostile land. From penniless settlers to wealthy mine owners to Denver's regal first family, together--and separately--they pursued their dazzling dreams of love and glory. From the era of the covered wagon to the rise of the western railroad, from the gold rush years through the golden age of the American West, In the Shadow of the Mountains is the breathtaking saga of a remarkable family who endured tragedy and hardship to build a glorious mountain empire.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

Another win from Bittner! After a couple of works that I dropped for various reasons, this book illustrated why I’d fallen in love with her stuff in the first place. She seems to be one of these authors that either writes gold or very mediocre stuff. Like the peaks of Colorado, this one was gold!

The epic family drama and the emergence of Denver as a prominent Western metropolis kept me spell bound. Much along the lines of Outlaw Hearts and Wildest Dreams, this book follows two individuals through very trying circumstances and follows their family build up through to the beginning of the modern age. Each generation builds upon the accomplishments of the past to create the next leg in the saga.

Historical romances are not the usual scene for these type of family dramas; in fact, Bittner is the only one I can think of that incorporates it. I feel it adds so much to a romance as we get to see the fruits of labors and the consequences of decisions in such a grand scale, over decades rather than just a few months or years. The actions of each generation impacts the next, and I loved that.

Surviving fire, flood, crime, war, and riot, Denver rose to become one of the jewels of the West, the Queen City as it was called. The vast history of the West was also explored in gold-rush California and arid New Mexico. I was especially intrigued with the history in this book as I’m going to be able to visit several of the spots discussed on a road trip this fall; so I got all the more excited, reading about them and learning some of their back story. Bittner excelled in this book aspect.

Her characters and romance also shined. Every character felt real to me. Even the nasty personalities like Elly and Chad, I was able to see why they acted the way they did, their motivations and inspirations. There is more than one romantic pairing in this book, giving us a more rounded picture of romance as well. As loyal business partners or passionate lovers or healing friends, seeing the different types and levels of romance made for a more well-rounded romantic tale.

For most of the book, our main pairing wasn’t together, which in another historical romance might have killed the book. Yet, the strength of their love and the trials they go through to ultimately find themselves together keep it in the forefront of the story. Even though they marry others and face tragedy separately, I felt their chemistry together even so.

Even though there were a few flaws here or there, they pale in comparison to the work as a whole. The vibrant history, characters, and romance all make for a gripping historical romance read. This is a solid five in my book; works like this are the reason I love and adore Bittner. I’ll be looking out for more!

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