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Monday, October 5, 2009

Cheyenne Trilogy Megabook by Carolyn Lampman

Cheyenne Trilogy Megabook by Carolyn Lampman
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Historical / Western
Length: Full (1,121 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

MURPHY'S RAINBOW: Wyoming Territory in 1869 is no place for a woman, but when Kate Murphy's husband dies of Cholera, she is stranded there with no money and no way to leave. At the end of her rope, she accepts a job as a saloon girl in the tiny town of Horse Creek. There she is discovered by the mysterious Jonathan Cantrell who hires her to keep house for him and his two unruly sons.

Jonathan has the face of an angel and the devil's own temper. But sweet Kate has a temper of her own and is more than a match for him. Living together in a small cabin on an isolated ranch their clash of wills gives way to an attraction neither of them expects nor wants. Then the past surfaces to tear them apart and create suspicions on both sides. Will their new-found love be strong enough to survive the secrets from the past?

SHADOWS IN THE WIND: Cole Cantrell has no premonition that his life is about to change forever when he saves the life of a beautiful stranger. Still haunted by his wife’s death, he fights his growing attraction to the mysterious Stephanie, afraid that she belongs to another man.

Stephanie has no memory of who she is or how she came to be in the middle of Wyoming Territory among strangers. Her only clues to the past are frightening dreams, a gold wedding band, and a confusing note that poses more questions than it answers. The only certainty is her love for Cole Cantrell. Will it be enough when they learn the truth about her past, or will their happiness prove to be as insubstantial as Shadows in the Wind?

WILLOW CREEK: 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?

Like the pot of gold at the end of a historical western reader’s rainbow, CHEYENNE TRILOGY overflows with remarkable women and two generations of Cantrell men—men of integrity—men that set hormones aflutter and hearts aglow.

These three stories are about strong women that never lose their ability to love, even though they have to endure heartbreaking hardships and harrowing dangers inherent in Wyoming Territory during the late 1800’s. Their special strengths allow each of them to be her own person while sharing life and love: Kate with Jonathan, Stephanie with Cody, and Nicki with Levi.

In “Murphy’s Rainbow”, Katharine Murphy (Kate) arrives in Horse Creek, Wyoming with a cow and four chickens. Her husband died of cholera on the trail and all her other possessions were burned. She cannot get herself to believe her late husband’s words “…every storm has a rainbow… and there’s a pot of gold at the end of it”.

When Jonathan Cantrell offers her a job as his housekeeper on his ranch, she goes and finds herself faced with a sturdy but filthy, cluttered house, and three males that would try the patience of Job. Jonathan sill grieves for his dead wife Mary. His two preteen boys, Cole and Levi, are forever into mischief or some precarious situation that keep Kate, Jonathan, and his partner Charlie Hobbs on their toes.

Jonathan, a college professor and quite wealthy, left his former home to come west hoping to leave behind his Civil War nightmares and his smothering grief. With an English breed of cattle, he sets his mind to being a successful rancher and moves forward.

The secondary characters are well developed. They enhance the plot and the events of that time in history, such as women getting the right to vote in Wyoming and to own property—to homestead. The wide range of events, from highly sophisticated to horribly barbaric, are dealt with by Kate and Jonathan while their “forever” love matures to full-bloom.

“Murphy Rainbow” is a gratifying love story, a history, and a mystery/suspense as well as a perfect foundation for the next two stories.

“Shadow in the Wind” is Cole Cantrell’s story after the death of his much-loved wife, Maggie. Cole and his nine-year-old son Josh live on the Triple C bar and work the ranch with Kate and Jonathan.

When Stephanie, an unknown woman at a deserted depot, is knocked unconscious by Josh’s young horse, Cole takes her to the ranch to recover. She has amnesia when she comes to. As she fights her fears day by day, she becomes a part of what is going on at the ranch, from house keeping to learning she can ride horses and can appreciate the quality horses that are raised on the Triple C Bar. She also craves Cole.

As the mystery around Stephanie slowly dissolves and the throbbing sore of grief Cole feels for his wife recedes, the magic of love with an intriguing twist make this story unique.

When Levi comes home after having been shanghaied and force to work on a ship, he sees his younger brother with Stephanie, his father, and Kate prospering and loved,—he is restless and leaves the ranch again.

The reader finds Levi in “WILLOW CREEK”. He is caught up in the bitter conflict between the old-time ranchers and the homesteaders and finds himself on the side of the homesteader, an uncomfortable situation for him, considering his background.

The prickly, defiant Nicki Chandler tries to hide her femininity. She does the work of a man on the farm and takes care of her family with the tenacity of a pit bull. Her childhood memories make her afraid to yield to the “womanly” feelings she has for fear of being like her mother. Even though she yearns for Levi, her fears keep them apart and threaten to destroy both their lives.

The secondary characters; Peter, the deaf-mute, Liana, Aunt Emily, the cattle baron, his daughter, mean cowboys, and Nicky’s father make the actions and catastrophic happenings like dried-up creeks, wildfires, grasshopper infestations, falling cattle prices, and the crushing blizzard of 1886-87 very real. They also make the adage “love will find a way” come true, but Nicki and Levi make it come true with and exclamation point. Their declaration of love joins two powerful factions of Wyoming’s—rancher and farmer. But, more importantly, Nicki and Levi get their hard-won happy-every-after along with the other Cantrells.

CHEYENNE TRILOGY is on for the bookshelf—one to be enjoyed more than once.