Open Country by Kaki Warner (Blood Rose Trilogy #2)
June 1, 2010
Paperback, 448 Pages
Why I read: Received from publisher for review and I had read great reviews from her previous book, Pieces of Sky.
Favorite Quote: Who would have guessed that beneath his sweet Molly’s round, bouncy bosom beat a warrior’s heart.
Molly McFarlane needs money and is willing to stoop to a low level to get it. After her sister’s death, Mollie fled with her niece and nephew to get them away from their evil stepfather, Daniel Fletcher. Alone with the two kids, and out of money, Mollie finds herself on a train in Texas. The train derails and Mollie, having assisted her father for years as he practiced medicine, helps tend to as many victims as she can. She hears the railway is offering $300 to families of the deceased. As she tends to an unconscious man who appears to be on his last breath, she declares that she is his fiancé. As he lay unconscious, she finds a minister and marries him.
Problem is, the man, Hank Wilkins doesn’t die. Mollie of course can’t in good conscienous let the man suffer, so she does everything in her power to help him live – and miraculously he does. Her troubles are just beginning – Hank’s brother, Brady arrives, furious that this woman is out to get their money. The Wilkins’s family are very wealth ranchers, and supply needed water to the railway. Mollie tries to explain she would be happy to just take the money and be out of their life completely. But Brady realizes he may have need of a skilled nurse. His wife is pregnant with their third baby, and her previous deliveries have been life threatening. Having ulterior motives, Brady demands Mollie and her niece and nephew come to the ranch to further care for Hank, and of course be there for his wife.
As Hank gains consciousness, he has no memories of Mollie, Brady or even himself. As his memory starts to come back though, he remembers everything -but his marriage. Now he has a wife and two kids, and Hank’s troubles are just beginning. Fletcher is after Molly, but not just because she ran off with the kids, but for much more sinister reasons.
A few months ago I read great reviews of the first book in this trilogy, Pieces of Sky. When Open Country arrived for review, I eagerly picked it up, very curious to see what Kaki Warner had in store for me. What she gave me was a book I could barely put down, a romance set in the wild west, and a boisterous family that I fell in love with.
As Brady describes his brother to Mollie, “You just married Hank Wilkins, the biggest, meanest, most elusive man in the territory.” Hank is not a man of many words, nor is he good with women or children. But when he wakes up after his injuries, he is saddled with both. Problem is, he thinks he just has amnesia which is why he can’t remember the three new people in his life. Mollie is so scared of Fletcher finding her, and after Brady threatens to turn her in for fraud unless she accompanies them to the ranch to also take care of his pregnant wife, she settles in – and finds a family, albeit a loud one. She feels at home, even with her burly, surly husband. I thought Hank, who is by no means stupid, would have been a little bit more intent on discovering the truth behind this sham marriage. Everyone knew about it, even the kids, and for Hank to be left in the dark for so long, didn’t always sit well with me. I did enjoy how Hank had to learn to court Mollie. with severe injuries, even though they were married, they couldn’t jump into bed. Mollie is very much shy in the romance department, and their love story unfolded in a very nice, slow, rich pace. Having spent most of her years at her father’s side tending war victims, when Hank finally touches her, as her husband her thought of – “This is what other women know. This is how it feels to be touched by a man,” really moved me.
Besides the romance, Hank and Brady have a very fun relationship as brothers. They fist fight, annoy each other, but they also have a deep love for family and since they all live under one roof, they have plenty of time to egg one another on. We also get a lot of Brady and his pregnant wife Jessica, who were the leads in Pieces of Sky. They have to deal with an impending labor and delivery, full well knowing how close they came last time to losing Jessica. Their love and worry, over the upcoming birth really pulls at your heart strings.
Finally, the evil players out to track Jessica down are relentless. They not only want a mysterious book that Molly has never heard of, but she is pretty sure they played a role in her father’s death months ago. They don’t come into play until the end, but it comes with a very satisfying resolution.
Open Country enthralled me from the start. Kaki Warner writes characters that are very warm, funny, and I felt a connection from the beginning. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this one, and I really can’t wait for book three, Chasing Wind, featuring the lost brother Jack.