Bride of the High Country by Kaki Warner (Runaway Bride #3)
June 5, 2012
Western Historical Romance
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “I wish I had met you first.”
Seven words. Expressing sentiment so innocent yet so weighted with meaning it threw her thoughts into disarray.
The Runaway Bride trilogy comes to a close with this book, and I can definitely look back on this series fondly. We finally get Lucinda Hathaway’s story. The mysterious, confident woman who befriended our two previous heroines, Edwina and Maddie in the small town of Heartbreak Creek, Colorado in the mid 1800’s. This book however goes back in time, prior to Lucinda fleeing her mysterious past.
Lucinda Hathaway has not always gone by that name. Born Irish and named Catherine, her parents were tricked by a runner (an Irishman who says he will help immigrants as they get off the boat, and then steal all that they have.) Her parents don’t live long, and she soon finds herself in a brothel, where a man by the name of Smythe grooms her for two years to become a prostitute. But before she actually goes into service, she burns the brothel down and gets taken in by a priest who finds her a good home. Gone is her heritage, never to be spoken again. Now she becomes Margaret Hamilton, and grows up English. As the story starts she is about to wed the wealthy businessman, Doyle Kerrigan. But Doyle has shady business deals and doesn’t treat his employees very well. When Lucinda/Margaret finds out he used to be a runner, that is the final straw. With the help of her guardian, she sneaks out of her own wedding and flees to the train station to head anywhere west. Luckily, as a wedding gift, Doyle had given her many shares of stock in the railway, so she has plenty of money to help her escape.
Tait Rylander owes Doyle a great debt as Doyle helped him live during the Gettysburg war. He doesn’t approve of Doyle’s harsh business tactics, but has been his right-hand man for some time. So when Lucinda escapes, Doyle sends Tait to track her, and he catches up with her quickly on a train in Pennsylvania. Problem is, Tait has respect for Lucinda and doesn’t want her to come to harm. Also causing issue is Smythe, who has realized who Lucinda really is from all those years ago at the brothel and is on her trail too. Tait doesn’t want any harm to come to Lucinda and decides to stay as her protector, which eventually starts to turn into more.
I just love Kaki Warner books. Always filled with warmth, adventure and laughs, Bride of the High Country is no exception. I liked that we go back in time to experience everything Lucinda goes through before she ends up in Heartbreak Creek. She has lived in hiding for so long, as a different person, although she has been well cared for by her guardian. But it isn’t easy for her to trust. When she realizes the man she is about to marry is sleazy, she also realizes it is just another man who has disappointed her in life. She wants to accept the warm help from Tait, but she also is very independent and feels like she can only trust herself. I enjoyed their journey together and felt like their love story progressed quite well.
I was a little disappointed around the halfway mark when Tait has to go back to New York to keep Doyle at bay. We lose a lot of page time of Tait and Lucinda together. But we also get this page time to be reintroduced to the previous heroines, Edwina and Maddie and remember how they all met.
The setting of these books is just as important to the story as the romance. We get immersed in the railroad and towns across the country as they make their way west. This one didn’t have me laughing quite as much as some of her previous books, but I didn’t miss it. Lucinda’s situation has a little more of a somber tone to it with her messy past. I enjoyed the villains in this one, and felt like the fit in the story well.
I think this series, and the previous Blood Rose trilogy are just fun, comfort read books. I really have fallen in love with all of her characters and I hope she continues to write in this genre.