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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Audrey And The Maverick by Elaine Levine

Audrey And The Maverick by Elaine Levine
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (346 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

In Elaine Levine’s stunning novel of the American West, a proud rancher and a determined young woman are drawn together in the lawless town of Defiance.

Virginia financier Julian McCaid has put his troubled past behind him. His plans for the future don’t include Audrey Sheridan, the extraordinary frontier woman he met just once. But it’s because of her that he’s come to the Dakota Territory to investigate problems at his ranch. And it’s all the more surprising when he discovers she isn’t the innocent he believed. Now nothing but her complete surrender will purge her from his soul.

If it weren’t for the children she cares for in her makeshift orphanage, Audrey would have left Defiance long ago. Now the sheriff is blackmailing her to distract the man who might derail his corrupt schemes—a man who can offer Audrey not just protection, but a passion bold enough to make them claim their place in this harsh and beautiful land.

Backed against the wall with the corrupt sheriff’s hand squeezing her throat, Audrey Sheridan agrees to do his bidding. His threat to hurt or kill the children of her orphanage ensures her compliance. She is to cook for the men on Julian McCaid’s Hell’s Gulch ranch for a month and keep McCaid out of the town of Defiance, Dakota Territory.

Knowing that McCaid thinks she is a thief and prostitute, Audrey feels she is jumping from the frying pan into the fire as she leaves town with McCaid, but she has run out of options. Desperate but determined Audrey tries to formulate a plan to take care of the children. Paying work has dwindled in Defiance as the sheriff and his gunmen caused many people to leave Defiance. Her mind goes in circles with the image of Julian McCaid confusing her thoughts and making her long for something she knows is out of her reach.

Julian McCaid knows trouble is brewing in Defiance, but he is used to trouble. Having set his life on a definite course years ago, he does not intend to let a range war, corrupt sheriff, or the haunting Audrey deter his master plan.

Often called a half-breed he has an even bigger secret that he guards closely. His plan will assure that his children will never have their bloodline questioned. Wealth has given him standing with the best pedigreed families back East. He has six blonde-haired, blue-eyed women from whom he will choose a wife, just as soon as this range war business is settled.

Ah, but the best laid plans do sometimes go astray, especial when a work-weary little beauty with secrets, despair, and fear in her eyes invades his dreams and his daily thoughts.

The children with stories that make the heart ache; Jace Gage, the “Avenger”, and Julian’s friend; and the few good people still left around Defiance add layers of emotional richness to this captivating love story.

Greed and an insatiable hunger for power fuel conflicts that bring death and destruction before good can triumph over evil. The scars both emotional and physical will forever be there as reminders, but hope, love and faith nurture the courage it takes to forge a life in the raw, harsh but beautiful Dakota Territory.

Elaine Levine’s writing style grabs the attention of the reader and never lets go until the happy-ever-after that seemed so unattainable is indeed reached with Audrey and Julian’s rock-solid love—a love that reaches out to encompass lots of little orphans. Audrey And The Maverick is an exciting and engrossing story about strong characters that helped push the American frontier westward.