The final installment in the RITA-winning author’s Old West trilogy (Forbidden, 2016; Breathless, 2017).
Regan Carmichael gets her first good look at the man she’s supposed to marry moments after she puts a bullet in him. She can’t help but notice that he’s quite handsome—and distinctly unamused. As far as Dr. Colton Lee is concerned, this unorthodox introduction does not bode well. All he’d wanted in a mail-order bride was a quiet, cultured woman to raise his daughter, Anna. His advertisement said nothing about requiring a woman who could handle a rifle. Clashing personalities is an essential genre trope, of course, but Jenkins makes her hero and heroine vivid, nuanced creations. Regan has lovely manners and a sophisticated wardrobe, but she knows how to muck out a stall—not to mention how to hold her own with the stern, proud, withdrawn Colton. Colt isn’t just a man who’s still in mourning after six years; he’s also a doctor who blames himself for his failure to save his wife. There’s plenty of small-town intrigue and family drama to move the story along. And Regan and Colton enjoy a very satisfying sex life from their first night together. This series is notable for depicting African-American love in a subgenre best known for its unfortunate depictions of Native Americans when it comes to characters of color. Throughout the narrative, Jenkins provides details that remind the reader that her main characters are not white. There are references to “Colored newspapers” and the black regiments in the Civil War. Regan studied at Oberlin, and Colton got his medical degree at Howard—two important institutions in the history of African-American higher education. When he reminisces about traveling to Washington, D.C., from the Wyoming Territory, Colton remembers seeing black people working in a diverse array of jobs and even running their own businesses. Race is not a central facet of the story, but it’s not invisible, either.
Another smart, entertaining historical romance from Jenkins.