Desert Isle Keeper
Only His was my first introduction to Elizabeth Lowell a number of years ago and today she is one of my very favorite writers. This book is not only historical romance at its very best, but romance at its very best. Only His is the first in the Only series, a quartet of western historicals written about the Moran family. Only His tells the story of Willow Moran and Caleb Black.
Caleb Black is everything a woman wants in a hero. He’s tall, dark and handsome; he’s also a man who is hard as a rock but he also has a marshmallow center. Caleb is the kind of man who will love one woman until the day he dies. I fell in love with Caleb Black right from the start, and he remains one of my very favorite heroes, perhaps because he often reminds me of my own real-life hero, the man I have been married to for close to 22 years – but that’s another story.
Willow Moran is looking for her brother, who high-tailed it into the San Juan mountains looking for gold. Willow has lost everything; her parents, her family plantation, her whole life as she knew it. The only things she has left is an Arabian stallion and five mares. Willow seeks Caleb out to protect her and help her to find her brother, Matthew.
Caleb is a man haunted by his sister’s fate and he has sworn to kill the man who left her pregnant and alone. He knows he will kill that man as soon as he sets eyes on him. Caleb agrees to protect Willow and help her find her brother and at the same time, try to find the man who hurt his sister. And so the story begins, and it’s a wonderful tale of adventure, angst and love.
Willow may have been a southern belle, but she is a woman who doesn’t know the meaning of the words “give up”. Caleb is certain that Willow will fall apart at the first taste of a hard life, but she surprises the boots off him when she hangs in without complaint even though Caleb fusses at her, belittles her and generally gives her a hard time. Willow just keeps on going, knowing that the minute she complains, Caleb is apt to drop her off in the middle of nowhere, leaving her and her horses to fend for themselves. The “Man from Yuma,” as Caleb Black is known, is a quick-drawing gun handler who knows no bounds. He turns out to be the best man to guide and protect Willow, and while he may not have initially have much respect for her, there is just something about Willow Moran, her courage and pride, that gets Caleb’s respect and finally love.
Only His is probably the book I love more than any other of Elizabeth Lowell’s. It’s a wonderful book on its own and a great beginning to a terrific series. It remains a book I continue to re-read to this day, and never put down from beginning to end. As is usual with Elizabeth Lowell, the love scenes are particularly well written, and extraordinarily sensual. Even though Caleb is a man of almost impossible rectitude, he sure does know how to love a woman when he finally gets down to it. Caleb is a true Western hero – a man who may live by the gun and die by the gun, but he is also a man who will protect and cherish the woman he loves with his last breath.
If you want a really good read and like a good western, this is one of the very best. After all these years, I still pick up this book from time to time when I need to read about a Western knight and the little heart stealer he strives to protect.