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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

West With the Wind by Cindi Myers

West With the Wind by Cindi Myers
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (248 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

More than gold awaits two lovers at the end of the trail.

Mariah Tate and her dog, Worthy, persuade veteran guide Campbell Jefferson to let them join his expedition headed to California. Camp can't say no to the beautiful widow, but his need to protect her soon clashes with her need to keep secrets. Mariah left more than bad memories behind in Pennsylvania and her growing attraction to the stoic but surprisingly sensitive Camp forces her to face up to the consequences of the choices she's made. Camp doesn't know what Mariah's hiding, but he's determined not to let the only woman who ever made him want to settle down get away. He pursues her across the prairies, through stampedes, Indian raids, desert drought and mountain snows. In the gold camps of California, Camp will discover Mariah's secret, and prove the love she wants most isn't out of reach.

Mariah Tate respects and depends on wagon master Campbell Jefferson’s ability to guide her to California. Determined and practical, Mariah plans for a new start far from her old home. She does more than her share of work on the trail, but Campbell soon learns that trying to control Mariah is like trying to control the wind.

Her persistence and Campbell’s sensing something different about her makes him forego many of his long-standing rules. He allows her to join the wagon train, even though she is a twenty-four-old woman traveling alone. Of course, she does have Worthy, her dog that looks like a wolf and is totally devoted to her.

Cindi Myers uses many of the usual elements that western historical readers are familiar with, but all these become incidental as the characters come alive as they are tested to their limits on the life-changing journey from Independence, Missouri to California. Their attitudes about how to handle their emotional baggage as well as their physical baggage pretty much determine who makes it to California and who succumbs to the rigors of the journey.

Mariah is a survivor and an optimist, but the burden of guilt she carries overwhelms her at times. Worthy seems to sense her moods and is always there to help her regain her emotional balance and her courage so she can move on. Worthy proves his ‘worth’ in many ways as the story unfolds—especially in the episode with the Sioux Indians--spellbinding.

Campbell, handsome and rugged, has a wildness about him. He says he hates taking wagon trains to California, but he feels compelled as if he has no choice. He is ready to settle down with peace and quiet after this, his seventh trek across the country. He wants Mariah, who stirs a never-before-known passion in him, to come with him when they get to California, but he knows something in her past holds her apart from him.

The secondary characters are a kaleidoscope of personalities, hopes, dreams, and strengths. The “me-first” attitudes of a few bring disaster more than once. The gambler St. John and Crystal, who travels with him, and the elder Latham prove to be antagonists on a par with the Indians. They do present mega challenges for Campbell and Mariah.

West With the Wind propels the reader along, at times gently and at other times in emotional or physical storms that are breath-holding happenings. The descriptions of the environment leave no doubt about how difficult the trek across half a continent is, but most of all the characters-good and bad-seem so real with their flaws and foibles that make the reader feel as if they are personal acquaintances.

Once again Cindi Myers entertains with her smooth, compelling writing style as she takes the reader on a vicarious trip that keeps one turning pages.