Serena Walsh is the beautiful and unwilling plaything of a fanatical Mormon, Elder Greer. Dragging her across the desolate prairie as he seeks a place for settlement, he does not count on her spirit and resilience. Serena manages to escape the Mormon wagon train and the clutches of Elder Greer, but she must find a way to survive in the harsh lands of the American frontier. Now the handsome and cynical Ward Dunbar, who freely admits he will take her as his mistress and prisoner, is caring for her. Serena is frightened of the man, and of his beautiful partner Pearlie, who despises her as a man-stealer. But she has no resources and no choice but to remain with him. Then, aristocratic millionaire Nathan Benedict approaches her, offering to pay any price for her love. What neither man suspects is that the insane Elder Greer is still pursuing her and will do anything to recapture her.
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The story opens with the heroine very unhappy with a Mormon family that has adopted her after the death of her parents. She is earmarked as the 4th wife of one of the Elders and really doesn't like this idea, but she travels with them - safety in numbers and all that. This fanatical Elder keeps popping up in the book and he is portrayed in an ugly light. Meantime, Serena tries to get her life together, falling under the spell of a very special man ... And so on. This is the 3rd Jennifer Blake book I have read and thoroughly enjoyed. Christine Marshall does an excellent narration in the audiobook. An exciting and entertaining story that kept me glued to the pages and audio and I highly recommend this book.
Not a conventional romance--keeps you on your toes
I felt as though I had to interpret this novel through two lenses: 1) From the author and the time period she wrote it (1980's) and, 2) the actual time period & setting of the novel. I can't imagine this novel being written in this present day due to the characters, their struggles and their prospective journeys. More often, in present day novels, you are provided with equally strong leads who survive external pressures, but none so remarkable as those presented to the Hero & heroine in this book.
This story takes place in a mining town of Colorado in the 1880s when people flocked to this area in search of riches and a better life. The novel is about Serena Walsh & Ward Dunbar....what a winding love story! I rated this novel 5 stars because I was absolutely hooked!--For whatever reason. It's a very NON-PC book, but it makes you think about the lives and choices both men and women made when the country was still growing. It is an evocative read.
Regarding the characters in the book, I have to say that after listening to the book twice, I better understood the Hero, Ward. Although, initially I felt more compassion for Nathan (the other guy), but when I considered how underhanded he was in dealing with Serena and stealing her away from his best friend, I just couldn't get over it. It was despicable and quite unchivalrous.
Yet, the hero, himself is no angel. Ward is strong, handsome...very masculine and Alpha-male, but there is this underlying fear and feeling of "not being good enough" for Serena that is compelling, if not interesting. That feeling of fear and the need to strike it rich in order to provide something worthy to Serena is what defines all of his actions and decisions. I don't think you can see this until the end of the book when he confesses his love for her and explains all of his decisions and actions made throughout the book. I would have liked for him to have shared his heart throughout the book & communicated better with Serena, but then, if he had Serena and Ward would not have suffered so much and there would be no compelling novel...lol. I also thought that perhaps that same burden to provide and to provide well for a woman like Serena (even though she made no such demands on him) made him feel as though he could not share his worries with the heroine. Either way, I chalked it down as a characteristic of men in his time period.
Serena, is sweet and beautiful and very much a reflection of a woman in her time period (I would assume). I think she had to be strong, patient and display long-suffering traits in order to survive. She makes the most of her circumstances and follows her heart. Serena very much falls in love with Ward and that is something she does not ever let go, even though she is pushed in another direction. Her kindness and what she did for other women, in need, seemed to be her own way of using her the power she attained to improve the lives of the fortunate as she could relate so personally.
The book within itself is not a conventional romance nor does it present leads with superior moral character and there is something interesting in that formula. In fact, many of the characters are burdened with their need for "MORE." My feeling was that if every character in the book would have been happy with his/her own circumstance and made the best of their situation with their own partner, everyone would have been happy & they all could have lived life similar to an episode of "Little House on the Prairie." :-)
5 stars because I had to listen again and because it made me think deeply about the characters & their lives....
Narrator: I thought the narrator was fabulous...very, very good. Her voice was crisp and she presented each character with their own unique inflections & cadence in voice that was distinguishable.