Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Love of a Wild Rose (Love on the Trails #3), by Natalie Dean, Eveline Hart

Kenzo Publishing, June 2018

Joel Macintosh and his extended family are part of a wagon train on the Oregon Trail in 1845. Events in the two previous books have included a jewel theft, a murder, a marriage, and an engagement amongst the various families of the convoy. The murder and jewel theft are connected, and are unsolved.

The marriage was his brother Liam's to Lenora, from the Missouri farmer part of the convoy. Their other brother, Brandon, was already married, and his wife, Jennifer, is pregnant. She's also sick, with yellow fever, and the baby is due, or perhaps a bit overdue.

This is worrying, but as one of the scouts for the convoy, Joel has to ride out ahead with the other scouts and the deputy marshal, Scott Mercer. When they find the wagon of Trader Jones, who had visited them just a week or so earlier, at the bottom of a bluff, at first they think it's an accident.

It wasn't. The trader was ambushed and killed, and most of his goods stolen.

Inside the ruins of the wagon, they find a Lakota woman and her infant son. She's injured, but alive, and speaks some English--but most of the "pale walkers" scare her, and she'll only speak to Joel, who speaks more softly and seems less threatening.

What follows is an interesting mix of romance, intrigue, and further investigation of the jewel theft and, now, two murders. Interactions between white settlers and Native Americans were sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile, and always fraught. Mixing between them was frowned on, but nevertheless, mixed race people existed. It's treated respectfully, here, and everyone's customs (not just white vs. native, but also the Catholic Irish, the Protestant Missouri Germans, and what I'll lump together as the mostly WASP bulk of the convoy) are treated as simply differing customs, regardless of whether some individuals have stronger views on particular ways of Doing Things Wrong.

It's an enjoyable story. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via Booksprout, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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