rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thoroughly enjoyed this latest addition to the Wild series by an author who has definitely impressed me in the historical western romance genre. I can heartily say that Garret grew up to be a wonderful man. Not only is he devastatingly gorgeous, he is strong, intelligent, and independent, but despite having a divorce under his belt, when it comes down to it, he's not afraid to give his heart.
It's clear that growing up with an unusual and strong sister like Skylar really had an effect on him, for he can easily admire the strength and the unique appeal of a woman like Maggie. Even when he sees her at her worst, smelling from her bear coat, with tangled hair, about to kill a man, he still steps in to protect her. His generosity is rewarded, because his life is later saved by her, and he finds the love of his life.
This book was rather like Beauty and the Beast with the genders reversed. In this case, Mad Mag, as she is called, is the Beast. In reality, she is a beautiful woman who has been forced by circumstances to live her life in the mountains, away from most humans, due to a nefarious brother who tries to kill her at the age of thirteen. When mountain man Ira Dawkins steps in to buy her for six beaver pelts, she gets the opportunity to survive that she takes full advantage of.
Maggie is just as admirable as Garret. She has her reasons for hating most people. After all, her brother tried to kill her for her inheritance, and any time she ventures out of her mountains, she is ridiculed and poorly treated by the townsfolk. Despite that, she still takes in Garret when he is left for dead during a blizzard.
That is where the Beauty and the Beast allegory comes in. Garret spends days snowbound with Mad Mag, only she is incredibly beautiful and sweet-smelling. At first, he doesn't even know it's her. Poor Garret falls head over heels, despite his spoiled wife having cut out on him after eight months of marriage and still having a wary heart from that.
I really appreciated how willing Garret was to love Maggie, despite the obstacles in their way. He looks past what her reputation is to the sweet, kind woman she is. Maggie is survivor and is used to having no one stand up for her, so possessing Garret's devotion is a wondrous thing. She doesn't know quite what to make of it.
In addition to having Maggie be the mountain woman, instead of the hero being the mountain man, Ms. Kayne also did things a little differently in that Maggie is the skittish one in this story. She has no faith in human nature, probably for good reason. The only person who was ever nice to her was Ira, and at the same time, he kept her at arm's length as well. She's lived in the mountains so long, she just wants to escape back, although Garret is an almost irresistible allure. She is attracted to him physically and emotionally, and really surprised that he could want her as well. Garret tries very hard not to pressure his "Magpie" so she won't run away back to the mountains. When he is brutally assaulted again, he gets the opportunity to woo her as she nurses him back to health.
I really do appreciate Ms. Kayne's writing. Each book in this series has been different. It's hard to say which is my favorite, because they are all so good. But it's easy to say that Garret is my favorite hero in this series. He's neither alpha nor beta, but a divine mix of the two. He's fearless in giving his heart despite having had it broken. He's also fearless in protecting the woman he's come to love, but at the same time very gentle, kind and understanding with her.
Again, Ms. Kayne really hits pay dirt with the excellent mix of romance and western action. Pick this one up if you want to read a really good western.
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