Desert Isle Keeper
High Plains Bride
Somehow I suspect that the hero in High Plains Bride did not expect to find the woman who betrayed him fourteen years earlier showing up on his doorstep and demanding favors of him at gunpoint. Still, that is just how the book opens and the broken relationship that is healed and rekindled kept me reading until I finished it in just one sitting. Kernan’s simple, at times even choppy, writing gives her story a stark beauty that made it a keeper for me.
Thomas West set off for the gold fields of California at a young age, promising to come back for his beloved Sarah. However, Thomas did not come back right away, and to his horror, he later learned that Sarah married another. Time passed and Thomas went on with his life, assuming Sarah had done likewise. Fourteen years later, Thomas finds himself held at gunpoint by Sarah, who has shocking news for him. Thomas not only has a daughter, but she has been kidnapped by Indians.
Sarah is frantic to have her daughter back and she tracks down the one man she believes will help her. As she gains Thomas’ reluctant assistance in her quest, Sarah finds herself having to face her past. Finding her old attraction to Thomas sparking back to life is almost as difficult for her as is dealing with worry over their daughter’s safety.
One thing that the author really does right in this book is that she does not make things easy for Sarah and Thomas. Their old attraction may come to life again, but they each have to address the past. All of the old hurt is still there and they must work through it without being given an easy out. This makes for a compelling relationship story. The hope, love, and forgiveness running through the novel make it a beautiful and bittersweet read, and I found myself getting teary at several points.
Kernan also intersperses details of the missing daughter’s fate throughout the story. It’s not always PC, but it does closely follow captive narratives of the time. While the accuracy of the details and of people’s attitudes in the story may make some readers squirm, I thought it made the book that much more compelling. In addition, having an experienced, mature hero and heroine made the story flow well. Sarah and Thomas are interesting and much richer characters than the usual and I found myself getting attached to them much earlier in the story than I normally would have.
While High Plains Bride is not always an easy read, it is a beautiful one. The hope and love in this story rings true and the characters are people in whom readers will want to believe. Those who enjoy Westerns or tales of lovers reunited will not want to miss this book. It has found a place on my keeper shelf and I know I will be reading it again.