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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dare to Love by Catherine Stang



Dare to Love by Catherine Stang
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (256 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Jessica Monroe is up to her neck in problems when her father dies leaving her with a house full of orphans, a widow and her twins, an ex-madam, and a horse farm to run. She wants her brother, Caleb, to come home from the war to help her. She should have been careful what she wished for because Caleb didn’t come back alone. He brought with him a band of raiders he’d been running with. Now they expect her to look the other way while they use the edge of her farm as a base to commit their crimes. Well, she won’t do it. While trying to help a neighbor fend off the raiders, she ends up bringing home a wounded stranger who appeared out of nowhere to help them. Just her luck handsome, Tyler Beaumont, is a marshal intent on bringing down her brother and his outlaw friends.

“Can you promise you won’t ride off?”

Too many people Jessica Monroe cared for and came to love have left her. Jessica, reared in a man’s world by a strict military doctor, picks up the reins of responsibility when her father dies and her brother Caleb leaves to “find himself." With eight people taken in by her father, Jessica keeps the Missouri farm going, trains horses, and asks no quarter. She does what must be done to take care of her “family.” Jessica is a strong character with just enough flaws to make her a memorable heroine. When Caleb returns with his outlaw running mates, her life turns topsy-turvy.

Marshal Tyler Beaumont, wounded and thought to be an outlaw, wakes up in bed at Jessica’s farm. Uprooted from his Southern home, he’d moved westward in search of a new life. His pulse quickens when Jessica comes to see how he is. Even though she is dressed in men’s clothing, her hazel eyes, honey blonde hair, delicate beauty, and fierce independence make him think she is one who needs to be cherished. How can a woman resist a man who calls her “angel darlin’”?

Dare to Love hums with life. It is set in Post Civil War days, when nerves were raw and many men sought meaning to life after being set at odds with the life they’d known before the war. Women struggled to maintain hearth and home while doing work that had once been done by men and they often had to stand against the outlaw element and the greed that the war fired in some men.

The multitude of characters, sub plots, and subterfuge make Dare to Love a novel hard to put down. Many of the secondary characters like Stella and Wolf have remarkable stories of their past, present and their hopes for the futures. Megan and Molly, six-year-old twins, had a delightful touch of humor, as does Harriet; while Drew, Willy, and Kajika show all the growing pains of teenage boy growing to manhood.

Catherine Stang does a great job of weaving the lives, actions, and emotions of all the characters together making for some intense moments as well as some “true love” moments as the antagonists are dealt with. Out of pain, suffering, and doubts, good things emerge making Dare to Love a heartfelt love story.

This is the second in a series of books that would be great for the historical romance reader’s library.



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