Torrid western adventure
Emily Brockinger, a fine Boston lady, gets marooned in the Colorado prairie after her caravan traveling from Boston to the San Luis Valley is attacked. Only surviving a toddler and herself. Braving out Emily continues the life-threatening journey with the child on her back. She encounters Cloud Ryder, who is returning from a war to settle on his land also located on the San Luis Valley.
A handsome wanderer with a rogue's reputation, shun for his immoral behavior and Cherokee's heritage, Cloud is impressed by Emily's beauty, fortitude and determination. He desires her at first glance. Cloud proposes safeguarding Emily to their destination if she gives herself to him. Outraged at first, Emily accepts the proposal out of desperation.
Cloud has little trust in women, specially after his first love married the man chosen by her family breaking his heart. He starts using women in the same way they use him. Most of the women he meets are of dubious reputation as himself. Never encountering someone like Emily, he is amazed by her innocence and passion. Often feeling guilty for seducing her and ruining her virtue, but unable to stop their passionate encounters.
Emily discovers her own sensual nature between Cloud's arms, and struggles with moral beliefs. Along the way, they encounter Cloud's friends and some of his former lovers. The more time Emily spends with Cloud and for the information she gathers from those who they run across, hints that Cloud tricked her into his bedroll. That he never would have left Emily and the kid behind. Cloud is some kind of hero according to what she learns. She gets furious, but instead of facing him and demanding the deal off, she continues to sleep with him, because by then, she's addicted to his lovemaking.
After dangerous incidents they reach their destination, and the insurmountable problems really start. Emily's brother, Harper, persuaded by his greedy wife, arranges a marriage of convenience for Emily to an amoral banker. Intrigues threaten and separate Emily and Cloud, thus, the story takes a stimulating turn. And the romance spring up, Cloud's feelings for Emily mature beyond the irresistible desires she inspires him.
Hannah Howell has a talent to convey characters' deepest emotions and during the narrative, it's a pleasure to see how they both change and what kind of life awaits them. The author did an excellent job with Cloud's characterization, creating him pleasantly mischievous without making him unlikable. I love the ending, it's not only a happy ending, it gave me the feeling this couple is made for one another. They don't confess their mutual love for each other until the last part of the book. When they finally said, "I love you." It's a memorable scene, the hardest for Cloud, who needs to go through almost losing Emily a few times, before acknowledging his love for her.
The characters are brilliantly developed, even Cloud former lovers have some uniqueness. All secondary characters are noteworthy, specially the Ryder family clan and Giorsal, Emily's friend. It's a book to remember, both the plot and its unforgettable cast. Seeing Cloud going from cynical womanizer to devoted husband, who faints after Emily gives birth to twins, is a great reading experience. I recommend this book to anyone who loves romance and adventure.