Desert Isle Keeper
Kaki Warner proved how adept she was at telling sweeping tales of the Western United States with her Blood Rose trilogy in 2010. Now the first of her avidly awaited new series is finally here and Warner not only doesn’t disappoint, but proves that she’s the new go-to writer for Western romances.
Southern belle and young widow Edwina Ladoux and her mixed-race half-sister Prudence leave war-torn Louisiana when Edwina becomes the mail order bride of Colorado rancher Declan Brodie and gets married by proxy before traveling cross country to his home.
After his first wife left him for a handsome gambler and they subsequently died in an Indian attack, Declan, the father of four children, has no illusions about love. He needs another wife to take care of his children and household as he builds his ranch. He agrees to a three month courting period so he and Edwina can get an annulment in case their arrangement doesn’t work out.
In Heartbreak Creek, the closest town to the ranch, Edwina and Pru meet Lucinda and Mattie two other fish out of water, women adamantly attempting to take care of themselves on the frontier.
Having grown up on a plantation with servants, Edwina’s first job after meeting Declan is to learn how to cook and clean house. With a plucky, indomitable spirit, Ed, as Declan nicknames her, digs in with gusto. She has the standard problems with her belligerent stepchildren and the unfamiliar household chores while Declan wonders why he thought she would be an adequate helpmate.
However, as they get closer and realize how much they care for each other, Lone Tree, an Indian Declan jailed when he was the town sheriff, begins his promised revenge. Now instead of building his ranch, Declan must protect his family and property from the near-crazed warrior.
Warner brings the story vividly to life through her compelling prose that often veers into poetry. Edwina, Pru, Lucinda, and Mattie are wonderful foils for hard-working Declan, his stoic half-breed friend Thomas, and Declan’s children, ranch hands, and friends.
If the stories of Pru, Lucinda, and Mattie are as enjoyable as the saga of Edwina’s immersion into Old West ranch life, Warner will have another award-winning series on her hands. I for one can’t wait for the next book.