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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Devil's Ridge by Margaret Tanner

Devil's Ridge by Margaret Tanner
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (318 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

By the time Ross Calvert discovers that Harry Martin is in fact Harriet Martin, she has already fallen in love with him. Realising she has failed in her final effort to protect her shell-shocked brother, she puts a desperate proposition to her reluctant employer—marry her and she will give his Devil’s Ridge an heir.

Ross accepts. However, he is tormented by the betrayal of his former fiancĂ©, Virginia. When on honeymoon he meets her again, he is still infatuated. With the army recalling him to France, he faces a terrible dilemma: Taste Virginia’s passion, or keep his marriage vows to Harry?

With the spectre of war hanging over them, there are bigger obstacles for Ross and Harry. Keeping love alive is only part of survival as Ross returns to the trenches and a man seeking wealth at any cost endangers Harry’s life in a way she had never imagined.

“Engage brain before starting mouth” would have been excellent advice for Harriet Martin. Young, unsophisticated, impetuous, quick to anger, and quick to help people who can’t seem to help themselves, Harriet gets herself into some major conflicts that bring about drastic changes in her life and leave emotional scars. It is amazing to see how she matures from the teenage girl, determined to make a life for her war-damaged brother and herself, to become a responsible adult.

Ross Calvert, the rich, bitter owner of Devil’s Ridge (where Harriet and her brother Gil go to seek work) has paid a high price both physically and emotionally for his loyalty to the Royal Empire. He continues to pay even more as the story unfolds. His obsession with a fiancĂ© who rejected him when he returned home injured and scarred makes him so unfeeling that he puts at risk “the best thing that ever happened to him”.

Margaret Tanner writes awe inspiring descriptions of Australia’s landscapes along with horrifyingly realistic descriptions of the carnage and misery in Europe during World War I that take the reader on an emotional journey that makes her feel as if she is right there in the moment. Ms. Tanner also creates some breathtaking love scenes far from “Edwardian morality and war” that are “pure magic”. These scenes accentuate the emergence of a soul mate, consuming love that gives super strength and courage during the somber, troubled times in which Harriet and Ross carve out a life for themselves.

The antagonists are so vividly portrayed the reader can almost feel the meanness in them—no redeeming qualities--just evil use of social position and power to aggrandize themselves and subjugate others.

Devil's Ridge is a thought-provoking story that shows how genuine love endures all things. It is a novel to enjoy more than once.