Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand Publishing
Genre: Western Romance
Heat Rating: 2
Elizabeth has loved Jeff since she was 16, but he couldn't see past her pigtails and trousers. Now she's all grown up and hunting for him. Boarding school did wonders for her grace and womanly attributes, even getting her a marriage proposal. Gregory isn't who she wants, Jeff is.
Jeff grew up with Elizabeth tagging along behind her brothers. Pest was her nickname, but now her luscious curves have him stunned. When she returns from back east, dragging along a dandy easterner, he's surprised at the unexpected jealousy surging through him. She's only the next door neighbor's kid sister, right?
Rustlers are invading the Texas countryside and stealing cattle left and right. The Johnson's ranch is in financial peril from the loss. Can Elizabeth tuck away her love for Jeff and marry the wealthy Gregory to save the family farm? Will Elizabeth and Jeff's one night of passion waylay her plans?
Although a romance, the book has a mystery that catches your attention and holds it throughout the book. Cattle rustlers steal cattle from the various ranches putting them all in financial disarray. Ms. Sullivan drops just enough morsels of crumbs throughout the story to keep the reader wondering to the very end, exactly who is the villain.
Elizabeth Johnston is the youngest of four children and the only girl. She spends her growing years tagging along after her three older brothers John Jr., Matt and Ray, and a neighborhood friend, Jeff Walker. When Elizabeth turns sixteen, her parents decide it is high time for her to learn how to be a proper ‘young lady.’ Stubbornly, Elizabeth refuses her mother’s teaching at every step. The final straw is at an annual dance where she dresses like a lady and dances with Jeff. She becomes infatuated with him but, he still sees her as the bratty kid-sister she’s always been. Frustrated beyond belief, Elizabeth is sent to a finishing school in Pennsylvania and spends four years learning to become a proper young lady. She draws the attention of Gregory Webster, a wealthy boy from a large plantation in Virginia. When he proposes marriage at graduation, Elizabeth refuses since she doesn’t love him. She still harbors feelings for Jeff, and can’t wait to return to Texas to see him again.
Growing up in a small rural neighborhood myself, with only boys to play with, I could really identify with Elizabeth’s behaviors. Since the setting of the story is just after the Civil War, such behavior isn’t appropriate for a young woman, after a certain age.
When Elizabeth comes home, the townsmen take notice, including Jeff, who is still seeing Aubrey Dillon. When Michelle, Elizabeth’s best friend from school, arrives to visit her, she is accompanied by none other than the appalling Gregory Webster. Gregory claims his father has business in the area and is looking for investments in Texas.
Jeff Walker has always thought of Elizabeth as a bratty tag-along little sister and doesn’t know what to do when she comes home a beautiful woman. He is drawn to her in a way that frightens him. He doesn’t want to settle down with anybody yet. But whenever he is with Aubrey, he thinks of Elizabeth. Similarly, Gregory can’t hold a flame to Elizabeth’s feelings for Jeff. But when cattle rustlers start raising havoc in town, and Elizabeth’s father starts to face financial disaster, she turns to Gregory for help, infuriating Jeff.
The mystery of the leader of the cattle rustlers keeps the readers attention to the end. However, the book disappointed me because it didn’t complete a couple of story strands. For example, the character of Michelle suddenly disappears about ¾ of the way through the book. And even though the evil villain mastermind of the cattle rustlers is caught, the rest of the men are never found. What happens to the cattle? Why didn’t the ranchers get justice and their money back for the cattle they lost?
All in all, the book is well-written, and the mystery is intriguing enough to hold the readers attention until the very end. This book is a cute romance for those interested in the historical time period of the Civil War. The mystery involved is definitely a page turner and would be a great book for a summer read at the beach.
3 Tea Cups!