Cherish is beautifully written and has wonderfully drawn characters, but it was so grim and gritty that it reminded me why western romances usually fall into the category of books I normally read only if they’re light and humorous.
Race Spencer comes across a slaughter in an arroyo while he’s out on a cattle drive. It’s not cattle that have been slaughtered, but people. From their possessions and clothing, Race deduces they were a religious group known as “cheek turners.” Unexpectedly, he finds someone still alive and takes her back to camp with him. The survivor is Rebecca Ann Morgan, a beautiful young woman. Race nurses her back to health and she comes to depend on him as they fall in love.
I have to say that Race is one of the sweetest, gentlest heroes I’ve ever read. He can’t read or write, but he’s loaded with common sense and insight – thanks to a tough childhood and a mixed heritage. He is so caring and patient toward Rebecca that’s it’s wonderful to watch.
Rebecca is one tortured young woman. She has seen her parents killed and endured subsequent attacks by the men who did it. These men are still at large and are still looking for the money that the wagon train was carrying. Even at the very end of the book she has to go through one more ordeal (a little overkill in my opinion). At times, I wondered if Rebecca was ever going to be left alone. Anderson writes so well though, that you’ll completely understand what Rebecca goes through, especially as she comes to realize that she has to learn to protect herself.
While there is but one long love scene, it is very intense and Race does things with her that make Rebecca realize that what her mother told her about intimacy might not be true. Apparently it’s not necessary to think about a Keats’ poem or finish prayers while a man “does his business.”
My biggest beef with Cherish was that while the love story was emotional and uplifting, the setting and events were so depressing they left me in the mood to read one of those slapstick romances I normally hate. It was just one thing after another for Rebecca and Race.
The ending of Cherish was ultimately rewarding, but the journey was tough. Still, I’m glad I read and finished this one. Now I know why Catherine Anderson is considered such a gifted writer.