Thomas Redstone — a former Cheyenne warrior seeking new purpose by following the ways of his white grandfather — is returning to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado, when he decides to give the woman he loves one last chance to accept him into her life.
Prudence Lincoln’s beauty and education have brought her little joy. Envied by blacks for the advantages she’s had, and reviled by whites for her mixed blood, she’s proving herself by helping ex-slaves prepare for newfound freedom. Thomas has no place in her future, no matter how much she loves him.
He’s suffered only hardship. She was raised in privilege. Their only common ground is the spark between them that won’t die. Yet even as evil forces tear them apart again, they discover that courage can be a weapon, happiness is a choice, and love can triumph over anything.
Publisher and Release Date: Berkley 7 July, 2015
Time and Setting: 1871/2 Indiana/Colorado Territory
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Jill
Thomas Redstone, half-white, half-Native American and former Cheyenne Dog Soldier, has been in love with Prudence Lincoln for a long time. On his return to America from overseas, Thomas visits Pru in Indiana to try to convince her just one more time, to make a go of their relationship. At the school where Pru works, he doesn’t find Pru, but Lillie, a young, blind, black orphan who latches onto Thomas and adopts him as her father.
Readers first met Pru in Heartbreak Creek, the first book in the Runaway Brides series, with her half-sister, Edwina. Pru is half-white, half-black; educated and raised with her white sister, she has never been a slave. Thomas and Pru’s romance has been ongoing through several books, but circumstances have always kept them apart.
Set in 1871/2, the story is divided into three parts, with the first part involving Thomas and Pru in Indiana, and the remaining time in Heartbreak Creek in Colorado Territory, where their friends and family live, and the story involves Lillie just as much as it does Thomas and Pru.
With Pru’s work in the education initiative for blacks and her involvement in the Underground Railroad, once again, their relationship is put onto the back burner. Though Pru’s work is both noble and understandable, I did feel the dramas keeping them apart just went on and on, and felt contrived rather than organic.
Naturally, they do eventually get their well-deserved happily-ever-after. And since this is the last book in the series, all loose ends are tied up. The Epilogue provides further closure, but I also found it heart-wrenching.
Western historical romance is one of my favourite sub-genres, and Kaki Warner is one of the talents currently writing in it. Her descriptions of the 1870s settings are authentic. She writes realistic dialogue, with touches of clever, subtle humour. Her characterisations are wonderful, particularly Thomas and Lillie, the po’ little blind girl.
Though this possibly could be read as a standalone – and enough background is given of the previous characters and stories – the series is best read in order. This trilogy series – Heroes of Heartbreak Creek – continues on from the previous Runaway Brides series and contains many of the same characters. (I’m not sure what was actually gained by dividing the six books into two series.)
Ms Warner has provided a wonderful romance for Thomas and Pru, and a worthy conclusion to both trilogies. As usual, I’ll be looking forward to the next western from this talented author.