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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Once Upon a Love by Marilyn Yarbrough

Once Upon a Love by Marilyn Yarbrough
Publisher: Hearts on Fire Books
Genre: Historical / Western
Length: Full (360 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Jake Tyrell had promised his dying brother that he would always take care of his family. Now that his brother’s wife is dead also, the children have traveled to California to live with him.

Amanda Collingsworth has run away from her brother’s fanatical control of her life, but during her flight she stumbles across three children who have been abandoned by their nursemaid. She rescues them and poses as their mother to avoid capture by the detectives her brother has hired.

Jake has smoldering good looks, and at times he can be caring and thoughtful, but the only thing he wants from a woman is lust, for to him love only exists in the fairy tales that Amanda reads to the children. He also believes a woman’s place is in the home--but not his home, for he never intends to marry. The only reason Amanda is there is to care for his brother’s children.

Amanda believes in love, but she finds herself on the verge of giving herself to Jake--a man she barely knows, a man she barely likes, simply because her body craves his touch. She tries to persuade Jake to open his heart, and not just his home, to his brother’s children. But she doubts that there will ever be room in his heart for her even though her own feelings for Jake burn far deeper than lust.

ONCE UPON A LOVE invites the reader into the lives of two people from vastly different backgrounds trying to sort out their own lives while taking care of three orphaned children. This is not a “gun toting, outlaw shooting” western. It is a story of ordinary people making a new life for themselves after having their lives shattered by cruel circumstances.

Fiery spirited, well-to-do Amanda Collingworth, having escaped from her avaricious brother, heads west where she can make a life for herself. Intelligent, compassionate, and totally ignorant of how to do household chores like cooking and laundry, Amanda finds herself caring for three children and running a household on meager funds. Falling in love with a man that doesn’t believe in love plus being pursued by two men that are paid to take her back to her brother, Amanda also finds herself in some untenable situations.

Loner Jake Tyrell, a hardworking, honest man, tries to do what he thinks is right. He long ago locked away tender emotions. He trusts no woman and hasn’t a clue about how to handle three small children or the feisty, Baltimore lady that drives him crazy—and not just because she is inept at housekeeping.

Marilyn Yarbrough creates delightful characters that enliven the story with their involvement with Amanda and Jake’s lives. The lies of omission and commission along with denying evident truths entangle the whole community. Ms. Yarbrough’s writing style makes the reading smooth and easy. A few misused words crop up but not enough to slow the momentum of this entertaining story.

The heartbreaking circumstances that bring about the lies and denials along with the humor and quick thinking that salvage some touchy situations make ONCE UPON A LOVE exciting. Plus, after some very anxious moments, the way Amanda and Jake find their happily-ever-after is most satisfying. Good reading.