Chasing the Sun
Coming to the end of an enjoyable saga is like bidding far-flung relatives and friends goodbye after a holiday or vacation. If the reader is immersed in the tale, tears and a feeling of sorrow follow the turning of the last page. And that’s exactly how I felt reading the last paragraph of the Wilkins brothers’ story.
Unlike the two previous books, Chasing the Sun is less violent and more involved with family, particularly Jack Wilkins’ turning from a feckless young man to a responsible adult and his new relationship with his two older brothers. From the beginning of the saga, readers know that 29-year-old Jack has loved Elena since he was seven. The last we saw of him, he was riding off to San Francisco to be with her while she underwent surgery on her broken and shoddily repaired hip.
After the surgery proves ineffective, Elena decides to join a convent, and Jack, angry and despondent because she doesn’t want him, goes on a binge—drinking, carousing, and having sex with Daisy Etheridge, a singer he picks up in a saloon.
When he decamps aboard a sailing ship without telling her goodbye, Daisy finds herself pregnant. Living a hand-to-mouth existence in San Francisco with her two-year-old baby Kate, she decides enough is enough and applies to sing on the stage. Much to her surprise, she is accepted by a world-renowned soprano who wants her to move to Rome for lessons. While she will get a stipend as a student, it won’t be enough to provide for her and Kate.
Daisy decides she wants this chance to sing, so she travels to New Mexico Territory in order to hit up Jack’s family for a loan since he had told her that they owned a profitable ranch. Who should also turn up there but Jack, back from his world travels, and at first unable to remember Daisy at all? Crushed even though Jack’s family have embraced her as one of their own, Daisy decides her first plan is the best and, despite a lot of dithering, finally asks Jack for a loan.
By this time, however, Jack is having second thoughts about Daisy and his daughter Kate. The idea of settling down, once repugnant, now looks wonderful. How can he persuade Daisy that he’s a changed man and she should marry him?
My biggest problem with the book was the character of Jack, who unlike the strong characters of his elder brothers, tended to be so egocentric that it was hard to imagine him breaking out of his self-pity and youthful gadfly manner to become anything but another burden to Daisy. Through most of the book, I found myself telling the stalwart young woman to have nothing to do with him and resist the sexual feelings that overcame her whenever she was around him.
My second problem had to do with the plot. After the first two books that were filled with what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles and rough Western violence, this book is almost benign in contrast. Most of it surrounds family life with the brothers, their wives, and children, and intimate walks around the ranch by Jack, Daisy, and Kate. Even a flash flood and the threat of a bear or the killing of a potential kidnapper add enough pizzazz to counter the bucolic pace of the majority of the book.
With all that said, however, Chasing the Sun adds a happy ending to a three-book series. Without a doubt, Kaki Warner is a writer to watch, an author with a promising future. She’s definitely an addition to my must-buy authors list.