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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dakota’s Bride by Christine Young

Dakota’s Bride by Christine Young
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (265 pages)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

When Emma St. John received her brother's letter imploring her to escape her stepfather's vengeful scheme and to trust Dakota Barringer with her life, she was willing to chance it. But the handsome, brooding riverboat owner Emma found in Natchez a danger of another kind. For Emma soon found herself surrendering to an unrelenting desire.

Raised by the Sioux when his parents were killed, Dakota had been betrayed once before by a white woman. He wasn't about to trust another, especially one claiming that her stepfather, a powerful U.S. senator, had framed her as a murderess. But he couldn't let Emma's intoxicating effect on him. Now Dakota would risk his very life to protect the innocent beauty who had seduced him with her tender love.

I can’t remember the last time I was so engrossed in a book: Dakota’s Bride took over my weekend, and even now, am wishing to go peruse it one more time…

In the heart of the American West, we discover a mystery and something of an adventure alongside a good old-fashioned romance.

Lovely young Emma has discovered information on her mother’s murder, and from the start, is in danger because of that knowledge. It’s not the usual western fare, she’s not threatened by any of the predictable, typical prairie/cowboy/Native American attack type things. It’s her stepfather, a hate-filled and powerful man. Emma must escape him and the details of her past –- she’s hardly old enough to have a past, yet she does, because of her family -- and she must escape her past, if it is not to control her future.

Her escape takes her straight into Dakota Barringer. Sleek, wildcat-like Dakota is presented as more savage than man, and yet we can understand Emma’s desperate attraction. And his, from his first meeting with her: “the rapid exhilaration of his heart or the tightening of his most private parts. Everything about the woman appealed to him. Her eyes held him spellbound and suggested an intimacy he could only guess at.”

The sexual action and later more emotional attraction between the two is spelled out in a heart-thumping way and is simply riveting. Intimate scenes only enhance the story line as does the tension between the two, and the terrible events that they must somehow expose if life is to ever be safe and livable…or can they struggle on together, both fugitives? No easy answer appears. It’s hard to guess where this is going -– and Ms. Young takes us far and wide. We might start off in a ship-board and in a saloon, but we’ll feel the terror of real suspense as Emma is pursued through a thorny forest, and even get a look at life in a grand mansion.

Epic style plot twists and unpredictable machinations contrive to keep us guessing throughout this long western tale. Young Clare, brother Jacob, the famed Boston Madame Velvet -– and even the bad guys are all notable characters. No secondary character is simply stereotypical, which keeps this tale amazingly alive.

Descriptions are less wonderful and on occasion repetitive. Descriptions in no way detract from the overall pace of the story, though. The dialogue and often interior monologue of main characters often read like a contemporary piece, however; those of us historical fans might better have appreciated a stronger sense of the times. However, given the amazing pace and unpredictable qualities of this story; I have to say, put it on your must-read list.