One Heart to Win
I really thought for the first 75 pages of this book that I had a D book on my hands. I put down the book several times before I steeled myself to read it to the bitter end. I am glad that I persevered because I discovered a nice little story waiting for me among the mistakes.
Tiffany Warren is a young socialite in New York City whose mother left her father in Montana when Tiffany was five years old. She has not seen her father in nearly 15 years and is very angry with him for not visiting her in all that time. In the opening chapter of the book, she discovers that her mother and father “betrothed” her to a Montana neighbor in an attempt to quash a feud between the two families. Tiffany now must travel to Montana and stay for two months to get to know her betrothed. While traveling by train to Montana, bandits attack the passengers but are quickly thwarted by other passengers on the train.
The experience is enough to cause fellow passenger Jennifer Fleming to abandon her job as the new housekeeper for the Warren family. The Callahan family has been involved in a feud with the Warrens for decades. They seek to get a little revenge on the Warrens by hiring away their new housekeeper when she arrives in Montana. When Cole Callahan mistakes Tiffany for Jennifer Fleming, she decided to engage in a little “harmless” deception so that she can discover more about her prospective husband Hunter Callahan.
Hunter Callahan is the eldest son of Zachariah Callahan’s brood. He has been promised to Tiffany since he was a child and is bitter about this aspect of his life. However, he is not a bitter man by disposition and he plans to get out of the arranged marriage after he finally meets Tiffany. Once the new housekeeper arrives, he is even more determined to end his parents’ agreement with the Warren family so that he can have Jennifer. Little does he know that they are one in the same.
Johanna Lindsey is one author that I never know just what I will get when I buy one of her books. There seems to be an equal chance that I will get a gem or a raspberry. This book fell somewhere in between. There were a number of misspelled words and poorly constructed sentences that just kept jarring me out of the narrative. As my copy was an ARC I hope those mistakes will be corrected in the final printing. On top of that, the heroine was given two names (Tiffany and Jennifer) that were just a bit too anachronistic for me. Tiffany could have possibly been a given name in the latter part of the 19th century, but Jennifer did not come about until the 20th century.
However, once I plowed through that first 20% of the book that just seemed a little cutesy and contrived, the entire tone of the book changed and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the story. Though the courtship period between Tiffany/Jennifer and Hunter only lasts a couple of weeks, the relationship between them does not feel rushed. Hunter is a very likeable character and even though he is portrayed as a big flirt, he is not shown to be sexually promiscuous. However his character was somewhat underdeveloped compared to Tiffany’s and there is very little discernible growth in Hunter during the course of the book. Tiffany begins her journey as the spoiled “only child” (even though she has 3 brothers she rarely sees in Montana) of her single mother for the last 15 years. She is steeped in propriety and her ability to unwind in the still untamed west takes place at a realistic pace. The insight she gains as a servant also serves to mature her character.
As I grew to like Tiffany, my enjoyment in the book grew as well. This book will not make any Top 10 lists of mine or even the Top 100, but it is worth the read if you give it a chance.