Let me start by saying Dorothy Garlock is one of my absolute favorite authors. The way this woman tells a story is practically like living it. I've read every single one of her western romances plus most of her depression era novels, and never once have I been disappointed. While this story isn't one of my favorites, compared to most of what's being published today her writing is above and beyond the average romance...
As always this author does a great job with the realities and descriptions of life on the American frontier. Even though not much of importance happens during a lot of the book, this master storyteller has a way of making it interesting nonetheless. I really liked both Willa and Smith, the two main characters. Willa was a strong-willed young woman, which you had to be in that day and age to simply survive. Smith was a kind, strong, handsome man who's haunted by memories. There were also a couple of side characters, Jo Bell and Charlie Frank. He was a sweet young man, but his sister Jo Bell I loved to hate. I wanted to jump through the pages and plant her a facer, she was so despicable!
To be honest, this was one of Garlock's weaker plots and I debated between three and four stars because of it. There's also the fact that throughout much of the story Willa and Smith don't have a lot of interaction, which is a pet peeve of mine. Still, I just adore her writing style which never fails to engage my emotions and take me back to an era long gone, but not forgotten. Her stories are beautifully written, and in the end I'm always left with the feeling that out of all the people in the world her couples were made only for each other. Overall I enjoyed this story and found the characters and depictions very vivid and life-like. I'd recommend it to both western and historical romance lovers alike.
Willa Hammer has nothing left after narrowly escaping the lynch mob that unjustly hanged her foster father except her dog, her faith, and the protection of a secretive family. She joins their wagon train heading West, never realizing she is traveling to the wilds of Bighorn Mountain, where a rundown ranch and the arms of an untamed, hardened cowboy await her.