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Friday, December 21, 2007

Review: Belinda's Love

Belinda's Love
by Weta Nichols

Rich Wells has been shot in the Nevada Territory desert and found by Belinda Asher and her brother while hunting for their stray cow. Belinda slowly nurtures Rich back to health, and an attraction blossoms between them. They move to the booming silver mine town of Pioche, where Belinda is a maid at a local hotel and Rich is chosen town sheriff. But is all well?

Rich burns for revenge against the rancher who shot him, and his family is prejudiced against his relationship with Belinda. Will violence and hatred destroy their new life together, or can Belinda’s Love triumph over all?

Lawlessness, prejudice, and love permeate the pages of BELINDA’S LOVE. This novel takes the reader to Pioche, Nevada in 1875 where “bad guys” abound as the lure of the Nevada silver mines brings in a motley assortment of people. Both the newcomers and the old-timers are less than admirable in their dealings with their fellowman.

Early in the story, I felt like an old western movie was unfolding on the pages. For a time after the heart-stopping beginning, the mundane events slowed the pace of the story, but pertinent tidbits kept cropping up to tempt me to read more.

Belinda, a half Indian/half Spanish beauty, saves Rich after he’s shot by the ruthless, powerful rancher, Rawlins. Belinda, an untried maiden when it comes to love and carnal desire, doesn’t know how to handle her attraction to Rich. Feeling anxious for her because of her naiveté, I found myself wanting to give her some “motherly” advice from time to time.

Rich, who came west to escape the constricting mores of the wealthy society of his family in Philadelphia, is attracted to the lovely, kind, young woman who put herself and her family in danger to save him. While the attraction is mutual, the difference in their cultural backgrounds proves to be a formidable obstacle.

The contrasts between the simple life Belinda’s family lives and the more “refined” life Rich grew up in and, to some extent, developed in the west, set the stage for Rich and Belinda to examine their budding relationship. While no highly dramatic conflicts occur, the subtle, everyday events undermine Belinda’s hopes for a life with Rich.

Belinda’s low self-esteem, due to the way people treat her because of her ethnicity, is a strong thread in the makeup of the story. At times, I read with a sense of urgency as I looked for her to become aware of her own self-worth. Prejudice, as it was at that time, comes through loud and clear. Both men and women are culpable and inflect much underserved cruelty on Belinda and her family.

The parade of adversaries that both Belinda and Rich have to deal with kept me turning pages.

If you enjoy a story of the early days of settling the West and of how love blooms among a multiplicity of thorny problems, BELINDA’S LOVE is it.

Review by Camellia