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Friday, June 22, 2012

Only When the Loon Sings by Beverly Wells

Only When the Loon Sings by Beverly Wells
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (392 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Searching for true happiness, as well as escape from a controlling family, Morgan Prescott answers a Brides Wanted ad and leaves New York City's high society life for the wilds of Washington Territory. Her spirit and intelligence carry her through the shocks that await her--streets of ankle-deep mud, life in a one-room cabin, the hazards of cooking--but they are no help when she loses her heart to the one man she can't have.

Private investigator Luke Kincaid, a major stockholder in the Union Pacific Railroad, goes undercover as a logging camp foreman to apprehend the railroad's saboteurs. All he needs is a mock wife to strengthen his act, but once he agrees to Morgan filling the role, he finds himself longing for much more--a love he's forbidden to accept or give.

Luke Kincaid fits in well with the big, intrepid lumberjacks out in the majestic timberlands of Washington Territory in the late nineteenth century. In a ploy to strengthen his cover while investigating sabotage, he orders a bride along with the other men—picking the woman with the a background that he thought would appreciate his plan. Due to a mix-up the dynamics change and his private, controlled emotional world takes a direct hit. The desperate, determined, Morgan Prescott, who at first seems haughty, can laugh at herself, so Luke does the best he can with what he has to work with. While she does not fit what he had planned, her situation touches him in a unique way and she stirs a part of him long denied.

Morgan hoped for a good partnership, a friend, and maybe even love, only to find her hopes and plans are torpedoed when Luke says he's not free to marry; he's engaged. His calm proposal as to how both their needs can be met gives her ego one more blow, but she has survived worse. Besides, the handsome, green-eyed man with a sense of humor and an air of mystery about him intrigues her and makes her heart do somersaults—he draws her like a magnet.

The vast array of secondary characters is vital to the unfolding of the plot. They augment the danger, add suspense and mystery about the sabotage as well as furnish humor and offer true friendship and help to each other. Sarah, old enough to be Morgan’s mother, is a godsend. She helps Morgan, who’d been pampered all her life. Though very accomplished in many areas, Morgan doesn’t even know how to make coffee much less how to make bread, desserts, or how to cook meat. The humor and near-disasters that occur as she learns is delightful entertainment, especially when the two women cook all one afternoon and lace their coffee with whiskey.

The unshakeable bond the lumberjacks and Luke have is evident time and again as they battle saboteurs. It's amazing the respect each has for the others skills in the dangerous lumbering business where one mistake or misjudgment can cost a life.

When the action moves to the San Francisco area, a whole new set of dynamics come into play. With the addition of Lucy, Luke’s terminally ill fiancee, comes new emotions that overwhelm Morgan—guilt for coveting the dying woman's fiancee, humility when Lucy likes her and wants her to stay, and heartbreak as she sees Luke’s dismay over Lucy whom he loves.

Beverly Wells brings to life the timberlands and the bustling lumbering camp. She takes the reader heart-stoppingly close to the dangers the lumberjacks accept as part of their jobs. Her descriptions stir the senses. Of course, the loons on the lake in Washington Territory and near Luke’s home bring wonder an a touch of magic to the story.

Morgan gave up wealth and privilege to be her own person and to be true to herself. Luke put his life on hold to be true to Lucy and denied his needs and wants. How these two cope with difficulties and conflicts as they strive to do what is right and maintain their integrity make Only When the Loon Sings memorable.