Matlock, Curtiss Ann
Curtiss Ann Matlock moves away from her beloved city of Valentine and back in time to the years just following the American Civil War. Her heroine, Olivia, is, like all of her other female leads, a strong, stubborn woman who has suffered loss and pain but refuses to give up her will to survive. She brings her two young sons, Will and Henry, with her on an arduous journey from North Carolina to Texas, where she plans to marry John Carter, a man she’s only seen a few times. Olivia has big hopes for their future in this stark, dry land – hopes that are dashed suddenly when she learns of John’s untimely death from his friend and partner, Monroe Lockett. With barely enough money to make the return trip to North Carolina and the rigid home she left there, Olivia persuades Mr. Lockett to allow her and the boys to stay with him until the next stagecoach arrives. Far away from civilization, tucked into the small cabin built by her late fiance and furnished by the silent man who has grudgingly given her a temporary home, Olivia finds herself faced with loneliness, despair and, surprisingly, a growing longing for her host when she realizes that his stoic calm and brooding eyes hide an upright, passionate soul that calls out to the woman in her like no man ever has. Seemingly oblivious to her feelings, Monroe remains focused on his struggling ranch and on protecting his herd – and himself – from those who wish them harm. Christmas promises to be one of heartache and possible disaster, a grim prequel to the rest of Olivia’s life. Unless, that is, the magic of Christmas comes to the little cabin on the barren Texas range, bringing with it hope, safety and love.
Though I missed the familiar characters and setting of Curtiss Ann’s Valentine books, this book was just what I needed today. Its short, sweet tale of hope and love brought Christmas sunshine to my heart and helped me forget the world I live in for just a little while. Down-home talking, simple truths and a comforting setting made this book the perfect one to enjoy snuggled on the couch in my warm nest with a cup of coffee at my side. Thank you, Curtiss Ann, for lifting my spirits as you always do.