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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

McShannon’s Chance by Jennie Marsland

McShannon’s Chance by Jennie Marsland
Publisher: BlueWood Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (235 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Fern

Trey McShannon survived the carnage of the Civil War, only to discover that the deepest wounds are those to the heart. A traitor to his home state of Georgia, Trey has built a new life for himself in the untamed Colorado Territory. Now it’s time to find a wife to share the future he’s worked so hard for – but can he free himself from his past?

Beth Underhill is looking for choices. Needing to marry to escape being sent back East, she prefers Trey’s honest business proposal to false promises of love. Can a union between a man who isn’t sure he can still feel love, and a woman who doesn’t believe it exists, blossom into more than a marriage of convenience?

I love reading stories during the period following the Civil War, and McShannon’s Chance engaged my attention immediately. Jennie Marsland ensures the reader gets to know both Beth and Trey by the completion of the all important first chapter. Beth is a woman that wants to be considered an equal, while Trey is a man that wants to shelter her from the harshness of homesteading. The first portion of the book is devoted to this, and the tension and conflict as two strangers become attracted to one another despite their differences really bring the story together. Both Trey and Beth carry scars–his are both literal and physical reminders of the war, while hers are of an upbringing in which woman are mere adornments–that keep them distant. Yet as time passes, they begin to trust, and a tentative relationship blossoms and takes root.

Unfortunately, I did have one problem with plotline. After the protagonists find love, the story takes an odd turn when Beth is offered a business venture in New York for some of her artwork. Considering Beth only just managed to gain Trey’s trust, it seemed rather trivial to leave in favor of finding fame and fortune of her own in the city he obviously wants no part of. Beth’s independence, though grating at times, was viable up until this point. However, when she chooses to leave Trey behind, believing it is best so he has time to find what has looking for in himself, I couldn’t rationalize her reasoning. If you’ve fallen in love and have taken that ultimate step to make your marriage official, why would you risk it for something so trivial? Ultimately, the plot twist is resolved when Beth discovers–in a recurring theme–that women are not as readily accepted as their male counterparts, and returns to Colorado. But by this point, Trey’s ready acceptance of her absence and reasons behind it, and her willingness to allow fate to decide if her paintings sold or not, had me shaking my head and questioning why it was included in the story at all.

Aside from this, the rest of the story flows smoothly and I enjoyed it very much. The work on a whole is solid and the writing is tight. I did enjoy the build up between Beth and Trey, as well as the remainder of the story after she returns from New York and they find happiness together. They are so very loving toward one another, even in the beginning when they express their affection through lingering glances or fleeting touches. Ms. Marsland is wonderful at captivating a reader by giving them glimpses of what’s to come. It’s a slow burn, but one you won’t want to deny yourself. The reader will also enjoy the sub-plots involving very memorable secondary characters. In fact, the mini-story of Nathan and Lorie could have been a novella of its own.

If you’re a fan of this genre, be sure to check out McShannon’s Chance.