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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Willow Creek

Willow Creek by Carolyn Lampman
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Nicki Chandler was too busy fighting natural disasters on her homestead and trying to avert a range war to worry about romance. She was more likely to chase a man off at gunpoint than invite him in to tea. Then a handsome stranger with a mysterious past came looking for a job. In desperate need of a strong back to help with the work, Nicki reluctantly allowed him to stay, completely unprepared for the assault he would make on her heart.

Falling in love was the last thing Levi Cantrell expected when he took a job on the tiny homestead. Nicki Chandler ignited longings within him that he couldn’t deny but would she still want him when she found out who he really was?

Willow Creek, a western romance set in the late 1800’s at the end of the Cattle Baron Era, tells of love that grows during those harsh, turbulent times. These were times when men could be shanghaied and pressed into cruel servitude for years, times when homesteaders settling in the west lived in danger of being killed if they thwarted the ambitions of the powerful, old-time ranchers who had controlled the open range for years.

Nicki Chandler, a farmer’s daughter who strives to do the work of a man while trying to hide her femininity, finds herself drawn to a supposed drifter whom her sick father hires. Her undisciplined temperament that stems from bitter childhood memories impedes her maturation and causes her and others lots of grief.

The plot of Willow Creek seems familiar but the way Carolyn Lampman weaves this story which is full of diverse personalities keeps the reader turning pages.

Both the primary and the secondary characters come to life as Ms. Lampman weaves the threads of actions and reactions of the fledgling Nicki, her deaf/mute cousin Peter, her adopted cousin Liana who is half-Chinese, her wise Aunt Emily, the Cattle Baron, his daughter, crude mean cowboys, and the ever so yummy drifter Levi Cantrell.

All the characters work out their destinies while struggling with drought, dried-up creeks, wildfires, grasshopper infestations, tornados, failing cattle prices, and finally the crushing blizzard of 1886-87.

Willow Creek is an American West love story that doesn’t let the reader breathe that happily-ever-after sigh until the very last page. If you enjoy western love stories this one is a keeper.