Taking flight from their quiet Pennsylvania town seems like the only way for Tori Boyd to protect her dearest cousin’s virtue. And the success of their escape may now depend on the man she’s been writing letters to for over a year now in the vast wilds of the Wyoming Territory.
Ezra Reid has finally stepped out from under the shadow of his older brother and sister, now having full responsibility to man the Rocky Ridge Stage Stop through the winter. The success or failure of the stage and telegraph contracts falls squarely on his shoulders, and he’s entirely focused on the work – at least until his mysterious correspondence partner shows up on his doorstep.
As Ezra takes on the search for a proper situation for Tori and her cousin, there seem to be no good options for the ladies. Especially since Tori won’t even discuss the one option that might succeed – marriage. When the danger chasing the women takes on a form none of them anticipated, how far will Ezra have to go to keep Tori and her cousin safe? It’ll take a lot more than luck to ensure his heart is the sole casualty.
Why This Book:
After thoroughly enjoying Misty M. Beller’s “This Treacherous Journey” (which I reviewed earlier this month), when I saw another opportunity to review one of her books, I jumped at it.
Opening Line (from Chapter 1):
Dear T. B.,
In response to your advertisement seeking a partner in correspondence, I find the idea more than a little intriguing.
This book opened with the text of the advertisement placed by “T. B.” of “Boiling Springs Township, Pennsylvania” seeking “a literate person in the western territories willing and eager to correspond with an easterner on a variety of topics.” After this, we read the initial response letter written by “E. Reid” of “Rocky Ridge Stage Stop, Wyoming Territory.” I’ve chosen to share the first line of this letter above.
Both of these, while important and intriguing, read like a prologue even though they are not labeled as such. The real action begins after this and starts as follows:
“Looks like it might snow.”
Tori Boyd pressed the creases flat in the writing paper as she studied the concise handwriting, a challenging exercise with the sometimes-violent rocking of the stage coach.
As you can see, we immediately feel some tension in the situation with the threat of snow and the mystery of the clearly important letter. As the first scene unfolds, the stakes increase and the reader is immediately engaged in the story. I wondered what would await them at their destination and already wanted to know what would become of the two women after that. (Tori and her cousin, Opal, are both on the stage)
Victoria “Tori” Boyd – Eighteen-year-old Tori has endured a very harsh life, which has forced her to mature beyond her years, but she hasn’t let it beat her down or diminish her determination to protect and care for her slightly older cousin, Opal. She is determined to find freedom for them both – and never to trust or depend on a man. Unfortunately, she has been left little choice but to seek assistance from her distant correspondence partner, Ezra Reid.
Ezra Reid – To say Ezra is surprised by Tori and Opal’s appearance on his doorstep is an understatement. Yet, this responsible, compassionate, and honest man overcomes his shock and appoints himself as their advocate and protector. His actions throughout the story are an incredible picture of what it means to truly love – first as a brother in Christ, and later, as a man in love with a woman he desires as his wife.
Opal Boyd – Opal is quite different from her cousin. Where Tori is stubborn, quick to speak her mind, and occasionally reckless, Opal has a quiet strength and gentle wisdom that helps her to find the good in the bad. Don’t mistake her quiet or gentle for meek, however. Every bit as loyal and courageous as Tori, Opal doesn’t back down when the going gets tough.
Mara English – Her story having already been told in A Pony Express Romance, Mara is Ezra’s loving, if a bit overprotective, big sister. I can’t say a whole lot more about her role in this story without giving away some of the plot, but it was fun to see her story continue as Ezra’s developed.
Josiah English – Mara’s husband spends most of his time working their horse ranch, but he still manages to be the doting husband and helpful brother-in-law we want him to be.
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
With solid tension all along the way, this one is a page-turner, for sure. While there are a couple points that let you catch your breath, it’s only just enough to do so before things start cracking again and you have to resist the urge to skim ahead. And you don’t want to skim ahead, trust me. There are no wasted words here, just good, compelling storytelling that gets you aching or rooting for the characters (depending on the scene) and eager to see what happens next.
Elements I especially liked/disliked:
The only nitpicky thing I wasn’t sure about was one particular paragraph of the thought process Ezra goes through in the aftermath of the crisis scene. It just seemed a tad over-the-top ideal, to me, but I can’t argue that it didn’t fit Ezra’s character or that it isn’t possible someone would think like that. So this is just my opinion, but it pushed the edges of believable for me.
On the other hand, I absolutely loved, loved, loved how Ezra reacted to Tori’s past and how he thoughtfully chose his actions and words in light of it. The man is seriously swoon-worthy! (and it’s not about his looks) Talk about sacrificial, selfless (not spineless!) love! He knows it’s an action not a word, ladies.
Why God allows “bad things” to happen to “good people.” – Yep. The author went there. And without getting preachy.
Learning to trust.
I have to say that I could not have loved this ending more. The author resisted the pressure to give readers the ending they expect and might even (mistakenly) think they wanted. Instead, she gives us an ending that epitomizes true love in action and left me sighing with joyful contentment.
4 out of 5 stars
Available at: Amazon
(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)
About the Author
Misty M. Beller writes romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.
She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.
God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.
Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family–both immediate and extended–is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream. Learn more at www.MistyMBeller.com.
Have you read any of the books in the Wyoming Mountain Tales series?
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