Ashes of Dreams
If you are reader of romance, chances are you have read a book like Ashes of Dreams before. It’s not all that original, but it is certainly entertaining. There’s something quite pleasant in reading a well loved story.
Amanda Jeffrey and her husband Shane dreamed of starting a horse farm in Kentucky. They had a wonderful stud stallion named Beau and their dream was beginning to take shape when Shane was killed. His father, Mordechai, lives with Amanda and her three boys and helps, but as the story begins Mordechai has been injured in a fall and Amanda is left trying to do all the work. Just as she is beginning to despair, Colin “Cole” Donnelly and his son Devin come by looking for work.
They agree to help with the work in exchange for meals and a place to sleep. Amanda is grateful for the help, but her father-in-law is suspicious. Cole turns out to be a wonderful worker. He repairs the roof, fixes the fence and plows the fields. A natural horseman, he is also invaluable when the mares begin to foal. Naturally, Amanda falls in love with him and he with her, and naturally there are conflicts, most notably the neighbor who wants Amanda’s land, and Mordechai – who continues to dislike Cole.
None of this is new to romance, but Ruth Langan tells the story in such a fresh and engaging way that I stayed up late to finish it. I really liked the characters. Amanda is strong and attractive, but isn’t feisty or silly at all. She loved her husband Shane, and keeps the farm in honor of his memory even though she is afraid of horses. But she isn’t afraid of hard work and wants the farm for her sons, who even at their young age, show signs of being horse lovers like their father.
Cole is a tortured man who hides several secrets, none of which are silly at all. He grew up as a property owner but lost his wife and his land. He wants to settle down, but has been unable to get past his anger and resentment. Amanda shows him a way. He is attracted to her for her beauty, but also because of her goodness, her caring and her fearlessness in facing a life of hard work.
Some of the best characters in the book are the secondary ones, especially the children. Cole’s relationship with Devin is an unusual one, and to say more about it would spoil it so I’ll leave you to discover it on your own. Amanda’s children act very real and childlike, they are not brats nor paragons – they are very real boys. Her father-in-law Mordechai is not a villain although he seems so at the beginning, but as the book progresses we understand his grumpiness and dislike of Cole and he becomes more sympathetic.
If you are tired of stories set in England and would like to read an American Historical romance, I can recommend Ashes of Dreams. It breaks no new ground but tells an oft-told tale in a most enjoyable way. And as a Kentuckian, I always enjoy a good book set in my home state.