Friday, May 10, 2013

Kaki Warner -- Pieces of Sky

Kaki Warner -- Pieces of Sky

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.90}
Action: ♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣♣.♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠
Action: 3.0 / Emotion: 5.5 / Romance: 5.0 / Sensuous: 1.0 / Suspense: 4.0  //  Historical Flavor: 4.0 // Laughter: 13 / Grins: 5 // Tears: 14 / Teary: 3

  2011: RITA Winner for Best First Book
  2010: RT Book Review Nominee: First Historical Romance
  2007: First Place: The Barclay Sterling {a now defunct contest}
  2007: Second Place: The Sandy Contest / Crested Butte Writers ("Mesquite Tree")
  2007: Second Place: The Great Expectations Award / North Texas RWA ("Mesquite Tree")
  2006: First Place: Heart of the Rockies / Colorado Romance Writers
  2006: First Place: The Molly Award (unpublished writer) / Heart of the Denver RWA
  2006: First Place: The Unpublished Beacon Award / First Coast RWA ("Mesquite Tree")
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Setting:     New Mexico Territory // The RosaRoja Ranch
                  Bickersham Hall, Posten Cross, Northumberland, England
Era:           1869
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It is with a great deal of joy that a new name is being added to my "Favorite Authors" List . . . all because it was impossible not to after reading Kaki Warner's debut novel, Pieces of Sky, the first book in The Blood Rose Trilogy.   This book is unbelievably awesome!   Warner is a truly gifted storyteller.   All one has to do is read this book to realize that it is worthy of each and every award bestowed upon it.   So many times the quotes publishers put on the covers of books they are trying to sell do not match the contents inside -- but in this case, the words the Chicago Tribune used for this book hits the bulls eye; namely, "Flawlessly written."

Warner did so many things beautifully in this book: {1} describing her characters with so much rich detail and so many layers that they became real people who wormed their way into your heart; {2} painting a realistic and beautiful picture of the harsh countryside in which the characters walked; {3} creating heart-warming, laughter-inducing dialogue; {4} grabbing hold of the reader's attention as she wove a magic tale of romance building between two polar opposites; and {5} revealing a deep understanding of the human psyche as she drew laughter and tears from her readers.

Another thing that really rocked was that Warner placed her story in a sub-genre that has been wasting by the wayside for many years -- a Western Romance.   Wouldn't it be wonderful if publishers would let authors who have been forced to abandon this genre to return to it and give those Romance readers who love Westerns more material?

It was so easy to fall for the unapologetically, 'all man' hero of Pieces of Sky, rancher Brady Wilkins.   Warner began to weave an intricate tapestry as she introduced readers to Brady as he found himself stranded when his horse broke his fetlock 40 miles from home.   And just to point out how realistic and down-to-earth Warner made her characters, she included a simple little thing like new boots to add interest, not to mention blisters, as Brady decided he would have to make his way to where the Overland Stage passed on it's way to Val Rosa to survive.

How better to introduce a big, handsome, rough, hard-working cowboy to a prim and proper English spinster than by putting Jessica Abigail Rebecca Thornton on that stage.   In spite of having that aristocratic air down pat, Jessica won our hearts as quickly and easily as did Brady because who could not help but feel compassion for a woman who was 5½ months pregnant because her sister's husband, the evil wastrel, John Crawford, had raped her when she would not sign over the deed of her ancestral home, Bickersham Hall, to pay off his debts.

Warner's gift of character development became obvious as she introduced the other riders in the stuffy coach with Jessica.   With just a few well-written words, Warner described {1} Mr. Bodine, the ill-mannered, uncouth miner who continued to question Jessica despite her cold shoulder attitude; {2} Stanley Ashford, the dapper railroad representative, who although not as well turned out as Englishmen, was at least clean; {3} Maude Kinderly, the type of complaining, 'all about me' old woman we all hate to get stuck with on any trip; and {4} Melanie Kinderly, Maude's daughter who was sweet-natured, but hid from her mother and real life by reading dime novels.   It was obvious that Jessica had no tolerance for these yokels as she responded to Mr. Bodine's proposal:

"Are you implying the sole provocation for your unsolicited attentions is some backwoods misinterpretation of the latest European fashions?"   (Jessica, page 7)

Warner quickly displayed her gift by writing the kind of dialogue that revealed the personality of her characters and kept the readers deeply interested in the story as it unfolded.   It was obvious that Jessica had a strong distrust of men and when Brady reached out to stop her from tripping over his saddle at the stopover station, she nearly unmanned him with her umbrella.   Warner also revealed that Jessica was a strong-minded woman, who was not willing to back down from a man, even one as big and bold as Brady as she took him to task for using profanity in front of a lady.   But just as it was admirable that Jessica felt it was her due to correct Brady, could not help but applaud Brady for standing up for himself as he tried to explain to "Her Ladyship" the difference between cussing and profanity.

Warner revealed an incredible sense of humor throughout the entire book.   Even during this first interaction between Brady and Jessica, she had readers laughing out loud.   And she introduced a facet of Jessica's personality that added such a cute, entertaining flavor to the entire story.   Jessica thought of the most wonderful derogatory words about the people to which she was addressing -- in that entertaining way that people who refrain from using profanity make up curse words.   In this instance, Jessica thought of Brady as an impertinent bounder (page 17).   There were many such terms peppered throughout the book, including: {1} impertinent druid (page 83); {2} condescending dolt (page 85); {3} despicable ingrates (page 111); {4} shameless bounder (page 148) and {5} utter cad (page 148).

Not only did Warner quickly introduce laughter into the story, but she began to include snippets that revealed the awareness that was arcing between Brady and Jessica.   Jessica could not help but be impressed by Brady as he entered the cabin where the stagecoach riders were taking their afternoon meal.

Jessica . . . wondered how a man could so completely dominate a room full of people without saying or doing a single threatening thing.   (page 22)

The romance that developed between Brady and Jessica was beautifully done.   Warner slowly began building a bridge that spanned the differences between a highly proper Englishwoman and a rough and tumble, earthy Westerner.   The first obstacle used to overcome Jessica's distrust of all men was giving her proof that Brady was a man of his word.   When the axle on the stagecoach broke, injuring and stranding the passengers, Brady was forced to leave Jessica behind to go for help.   He asked the distrusting Jessica to trust him -- that he promised to return with help.

Another aspect to the story that drew interest and kept the plot moving at a fast pace was the excitement Warner inspired by creating action and adventure as Brady had to again deal with blistered, swelling feet as he found himself trying to make it to his ranch after the horse he was riding went lame.   Going for help for Jessica and the other passengers was not the only need driving Brady to get home as quickly as possible.   The cook at the stopover told Brady that Sancho Ramirez, the man who was responsible for killing members of his family during a ten-year feud, was recently released from prison after serving only ten years and Brady needed to make sure his brothers were still alive.

By now Warner has the reader so engrossed in the story that it is impossible to put the book down.   However, Warner does slow down the exciting action-packed pace of the story to begin dealing with the emotional issues facing Brady and Jessica as they recuperate from their injuries at the Wilkins home, the RosaRoja Ranch.   The suspenseful aspect of the story picks up as Warner begins revealing the details behind the feud that happened between the two owners of the RosaRoja Ranch -- the original owner, Don Ramon Ramirez (Sancho's father) and the next owner, Jacob Nathaniel Wilkins (Brady's father), who purchased the land for back taxes after the war with Mexico ended.

Several other important secondary characters are introduced to increase the suspense and interest in the story.   Warner utilized her skill at character development to introduce readers to the number one villain, Sancho, through the eyes of his almost equally villainous half brother (illegitimate son of Don Ramon), Paco Alvarez.   Paco may have been riding with Sancho and the men he hired to help him kill the Wilkins brothers and take back his ranch, but he, too, was afraid of this crazy man who was "more animal than human now."

Thankfully Sancho Ramirez did not spend a lot of time on the pages of the book, because he was totally irredeemable.   Sancho was constantly haunted by the voice of his mother, Maria Ramirez, who he killed because she had the audacity to fall in love with Jacob Wilkins.   Even as insane as he was, Sancho managed to escape the search parties that Brady sent out in his efforts to end the feud once and for all.

Loved the picture that Warner began painting of the other two brothers (who will have their own books in this trilogy) -- the middle brother, Patrick Henry "Hank" Wilkins and the youngest living brother, Andrew Jackson "Jack" Wilkins.   Being an animal lover, too, it was easier to be drawn to the well-described and well-written quiet, introspective personality that was Hank.   However, let's hope that Warner ages and matures Jack before telling his story, because even though he was charming and free-spirited, he also came across as too immature and had no discernment whatsoever.

Loved the characteristic that Warner gave to all three of the Wilkins brothers -- a smile that was devastating when it was turned upon women.   Jessica was no more immune to those smiles than any other woman, particularly Brady's.

He [Brady] glanced over, gave her the full benefit of that dazzling, dimpled grin, and she realized what a naïve ninny she had been.   He knew exactly the effect of that smile and employed it without conscience to further his own aims.   (Jessica, page 148)

It rocked her back on her heels.   Even half hidden by the beard, it was astonishing.   Beatific.   Brady without the devilry, Jack without the lechery.   It was, simply put, the most beautiful smile she had ever seen.   Oh my.   On behalf of the fragile hearts of women everywhere, Jessica offered silent thanks for the concealing beard, for without it, dear Hank would leave a trail of heartache in his wake.   Mercy, what beautiful children these brothers would sire.   (page 283)

There were two other characters that were important members of the cast even though they played minimal roles.   Absolutely love the way Warner describes these characters.   With a minimum of words, Warner fleshed out their personalities and created a great interest in these two men.   Wished that they could have spent more time on the pages of the book.

His gaze drifted toward the man who had been his mainstay ever since his father died.   He noted the frailness of bony shoulder blades where muscle used to be, the kinky whiteness of hair that had once been coal black, and he wondered what he would do when Buck was gone, too.
Buck had been there through it all, ever since he and Iantha had fled the South.   Rather than be sold apart, they had run west until they hooked up with Jacob in late '48 and Buck started scouting for the Missouri Volunteers during the war with Mexico.   (Brady, page 61)

Rikker was slightly more talkative than Buck -- a quiet seeker, as patient as a faro dealer and as persistent as a bad tooth.   Brady knew him to be a fair man not given to rash impulses or hasty decisions, a man whose single-minded dedication to the law had brought him great respect but few close friends.   Except for Jacob.   (Brady, page 69)

Sancho's sister, Elena Ramirez was another addition to the cast of characters that added greatly to the story.   Elena, who lived at RosaRoja, was the most stunningly beautiful woman Jessica had ever seen.   It was through Elena's story of how she came to be crippled at the hands of her brother that readers learned about the inborn evil nature possessed by Sancho.   Because Elena had also suffered abuse at the hands of a man stronger than she, she was able to befriend Jessica on a very personal level.   In fact, the discussion Jessica and Elena held regarding the beating their self-worth took because of their abuses was particularly revealing and poignant.

"Because of what this man did, it makes you feel less than you were."   (Elena, page 161)

How could a woman suffer such a thing and not lose part of her soul?   (Jessica, page 161)

"You are ashamed, even though in your mind you know it was not your fault.   I know this because I feel the same."   (Elena, page 161)

"I look at my damaged body and feel unworthy."   (Elena, page 161)

She had been marked by a man's violence.   Because she saw herself in those terms -- identified herself in those terms -- she expected everyone else to see her that way, too.   (Jessica, page 161)

Another role Elena played was to enhance the distance between Brady and Jack.   Jack was constantly angry at Brady because he believed that Brady and Elena had an intimate relationship, being totally blind to the fact that Elena was in love with him.   After checking on FictionDB to see if Jack was paired with Elena in his book, it became evident why Warner went to such lengths to develop a less deep emotional investment in Elena as a principal character -- Jack is to be paired with someone other than Elena in his book.

Warner excelled when it came to making original comparisons.   This unique ability speaks volumes for Warner's creative gift.   For example, look at this simile:

With her tangled hair, spotting complexion, and swollen temple, she looked as if she might be quite at home swinging with Esmeralda from the bell tower ropes of Notre Dame de Paris.   (Jessica, page 87)

Okay, so if Warner did everything so beautifully, so skillfully, why isn't this book rated with the perfect five?   Because Warner choose to leave out the sensuality in this book.   Yes, the romance between Brady and Jessica is off the charts.   Yes, the emotional connection between Brady and Jessica brought forth laughter and tears.   But, when it came time to entertain readers with the actual lovemaking scenes, Warner decided to go entirely with the emotional aspect of the event rather than titillate readers with a bit sizzle, heat and graphic detail.   Now that was disappointing!

Warner did an excellent job when it came to the face-off between the villains and the protagonists.   It was particularly wonderful to see the way the Wilkins brothers all stood beside Jessica to bolster her courage when her attacker, John Crawford, found her at the ranch to demand she sign over the deed of Bickersham Hall.   By this time, Jessica was strong enough to stand up to Crawford and Brady was wise enough to let her call the shots.   The final showdown between Brady and Sancho near the end of the book also included Jessica, which added greatly to the suspense and intensity of the meeting.

For some reason, the last chapter in the book was a bit disappointing.   First, even though it was a relief that Jessica was not going to be fickle enough to move on with her life by marrying someone else because Brady would not come to his senses and come for her in England, Warner failed to be convincing when she implied this.   (The giveaway was in the way Jessica answered Dougal's request to see a buffalo.)   And while it was enjoyable to see the picture of Brady, with a gun on his hip and a saddle on his shoulder, walking into a fancy London hotel, it was difficult to imagine him giving up the wide open spaces of the New Mexico Territory for England.

So, all in all, Pieces of Sky, Kaki Warner's first book in The Blood Rose Trilogy, is a must read for romance readers who love: {1} a hero that is big, handsome, earthy, gifted with a sense of humor, yet haunted by past mistakes, and has a protective streak a mile wide; {2} a gorgeous, strong-willed, gentle-natured heroine who must learn to trust to find love; {3} a book that is jam-packed with emotional outpourings of laugh out loud humor and tear-inducing revelations; {4} a beautifully built, slowly budding romance between two people who learn to bridge a social chasm; {5} the inclusion of exciting scenes of action and adventure necessary for any book placed in the old west; {6} a page-turning aura of suspense that remains ever constant in the minds of the reader; {7} extremely well-written, multi-faceted supporting characters that add great depth to the story; and {8} lovemaking scenes that contain no sizzle or spice.

This beautifully written, emotionally engaging piece of work will definitely be added to my 'to be re-read' list.
--Vonda M. Reid (Wednesday, May 8, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.)     [311]

Books In The Series: "The Blood Rose Trilogy"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.01-2010Pieces of SkyBrady Wilkins, eldest brother, rancherJessica Abigail Rebecca Thornton, Englishwoman
02.06-2010Open CountryPatrick Henry "Hank" Wilkins, middle brother, rancher, oversaw mineMolly McFarlane, Civil War nurse
03.01-2011Chasing The SunAndrew Jackson "Jack" Wilkins, youngest brother, wandererDaisy Etheridge, aspiring opera singer

Characters Found In "Pieces of Sky"
Character Description
Brady Wilkins[Hero] mustache; gash across cheekbone (1) prized possession: Winchester Model 1866 repeating rifle (2) ham-sized fist; hulking size; dusty black hat (12) considerably taller than Jessica (12) mop of shaggy dark hair; built like blacksmith; tall; very strong; streak of dark hair running down his belly; unruly black mustache (14) mid 30s; face bore mark of harsh climate; skin darkened by sun; features as harshly carved as wind-carved bluffs; beautiful shocking turquoise blue eyes (15) big; handsome; odd-colored eyes; wide shoulders (20) powerful hands, broad and long-fingered, roughened by dark hair; marred by callouses and scars; capable, hardworking hands (24) magnificent eyes (27) odd glint in aqua eyes; smelled of sweat, horses, old smoke; gray sprinkles in dark stubble of beard; pale scar running through one dark eyebrow; lovely teeth; dimples; smile changed his entire face; velvet voice; eyes that changed color with his moods (30) size and manner could be intimidating; never used strength against a woman (43) the hardhead (58) hard to read like father (71) stillness complete, yet air around him hummed with energy (76) lean hips (85) dimples; blushes (91) tautly controlled (96) strong, honest man who liked to tease (113) strong angles to jaw; Adam's apple stood out in stark relief; cords of muscles in neck; perfect blend of strength and masculine grace (114) 33-y-o (125) outrageous; unpredictable; confounding (130) lazy self-assurance in every line of his long form (166) moved gracefully and fluidly, but utterly masculine; loose-hipped rolling gait of a horseman (167) an Adonis; all corded muscle; black hair trailed down his chest (257) dominant, dominating man (261) pragmatic self-assurance; complicated; confounding (262)
Jessica Abigail Rebecca Thornton[Heroine] left England 2 months ago (4) tall; devil hair (4) 26-y-o spinster; 5½ months pregnant (5) tall, but not freakishly so; red hair with unruly curls; tendency to freckle; reputation for a temper; not voluptuous in figure; not flirtatious in manner; passable attractive; men always looked twice (5) directness of manner; authoress; milliner; wrote pamphlets on deportment for persons of quality (6) became snappish rude, angry all the time after raped (9) Jessica Abigail Rebecca Thornton (13) had become tedious, quoting from pamphlets; dressing down strangers; could scarcely stand her own company (29) not a crier or complainer (42) easy on the eyes; "all pride and not much sense, but a heart that wouldn't quit"; whiskey brown eyes; kind; slim fingers (43) fiery temper to match riot of red curls haloing her face; confounding; excitable (45) "Her Ladyship" (56) cinnamon freckles; wild chestnut hair (58) hair the color of oiled red oak, threaded with gold (63) small head with so much hair; undisciplined tangle of curls, so silky-fine they caught on everything; a puzzle of contradictions (65) delicate features hid surprising strength; disconcertingly beautiful (77) redoubtable, most proper spinster (81) Miss Laudy Daw; idleness abhorrent to her (83)
. . . . . .
Abe[Brief Appearances] RosaRoja ranch hand (60) fancied himself a gunfighter until saw up close what bullet could do (61)
Paco Alvarez[Minor Secondary Character / Point of View Voice] stocky man; quick darting eyes; didn't like heights (47) Sancho promised him half the ranch if would help him get rid of Wilkins; smoker (48) illegitimate son of Don Ramon Ramirez; mustache; if killed Sancho and Elena, he would be Don Francisco Ramirez, patrón of RosaRoja Rancho (55) swarthy skin (175)
Stanley Ashford[Minor Secondary Character] dapper railroad representative; fair hair; on stage with Jessica (4) clean; not as well turned out as Englishman (6) condescending; blond mustache (7) did advanced work for the Texas and Pacific (32) elegant almost feminine fingers; fastidious; skinny mustache trimmed in straight line (110) handsome; well-mannered; compared to Wilkins brothers, seemed prissy, too civilized; elegant fingers; buffed nails; pale unblemished skin (144)
Bob[Animal] Brady's horse; one of finest animals he ever owned; 1,2000 pounds (2)
Mr. Bodine[Brief Appearance] on stage with Jessica; had diggings in Silver City (4) tobacco-stained, smirking mouth (7)
Percival Frederick Bothingham III[No Appearance] mining engineer; Jessica hired to oversee the mine (357) Percy (371)
Henrietta Louise, Lady Bottomsley of Bickersham Hall[No Appearance] Jessica's great grandmother; a woman of great consequence; a baronet's daughter; could outsnob the most arrogant aristocrat (162)
Buck[Secondary Character] Brady's mainstay ever since his father died; frail; bony shoulder blades where muscle used to be; kinky whiteness of hair that had once been coal black; fled South with his wife; hooked up with Jacob in '48; started scouting for Missouri Volunteers during war with Mexico (61) completely loyal to Jacob (62)
Bullshot[Animal] Brady's dog (55) vocal (88) sad, soft eyes; droopy ears (205)
Tom Burkett[No Appearance] rancher; married Sara Logan; moved to Taos (159)
Consuelo[Minor Secondary Character] medicine basket (55) housekeeper; cooks for brothers (79) portly; middle-aged Mexican woman (81) round face dominated by kind, dark eyes; spoken broken English with strong accent (82) giving spirit (87)
Annie [Thornton] [Crawford][Brief Appearance] Jessica's little sister (5) natural shyness became fumbling uncertainty under John's critical eye (95)
John Crawford[Secondary Character] used fist on Jessica (6) Annie's husband; raped Jessica; demanding Jessica sign over deed of Bickersham Hall (8) Jessica's brother-in-law (13) given to sulks; impatient; overbearing; complaining bitterly of lack of funds and tedium of country life; visits home became more volatile and less frequent (95) arrogant tilt of head; posture of small man trying to look taller (240) small womanish hands; portly; bottom-heavy form perched like egg atop unsturdy legs; dressed like a dandy; moved with prissy saunter (241) pale gray eyes (242) capable of great evil (243)
Neddy [Crawford][No Appearance] Annie's son; had nightmares (112)
Rebecca [Crawford][No Appearance] Annie's daughter; lisped (112)
Cook[Brief Appearance] at Overland Stage stopover; grizzled old man; stained leather apron; face full of hair (11)
Darnell[No Appearance] RosaRoja ranch hand; killed (140)
Haskins[Brief Appearances] lanky; bearded man; mean-eyed Texan Sancho recruited in San Pedro cantina (49)
Horace Higgins[Brief Appearances] Phineas's son and assistant; wore round, wire-rimmed spectacles; could pass for a stone mason except for empty right sleeve; kind, intelligent hazel eyes (227)
Phineas Higgins[Brief Appearances] lawyer (226) wore round, wire-rimmed spectacles; stooped shoulders of man who spent hours at his desk (227)
Iantha[Brief Appearances] Buck's wife; ran with Buck so wouldn't be separately sold (61)
Lemuel Jamison[No Appearance] Sancho killed he and his wife, burned house (50)
Lieutenant Jarvey[Brief Appearance] sent to escort Kinderlys to Santa Fe (137)
Colonel Kinderly [No Appearance] Maude's husband (10)
Maude Kinderly[Brief Appearances] on stage with Jessica; coal-scuttle bonnet; frizzy gray curls (4) took advantage of Melanie with constant demands (8) endless diatribe, catalogue of complaints (10) contentious voice (19)
Melanie Kinderly[Secondary Character] on stage with Jessica; Maude's grown daughter; engrossed in dime novel (4) sweet face; lovely blond hair; a gentle aspect; a most pleasant young woman; bent towards romanticism; overly biddable nature; took refuge in books (8) slightly protruding gray eyes (9) decided flair for design (95) developed entendres for 3 brothers, Hank in the lead (89)
Langley[One Appearance] one of top hands at RosaRoja (174)
Sara Logan[No Appearance] Jacob wanted Brady to marry her to join ranches (159)
Tom Logan[No Appearance] neighboring rancher; friend of Jacob's (159)
McPherson[No Appearance] from El Paso (2) discussed white-faced crossbreeds with Brady (69)
Dougal McRae[Brief Appearances] wiry gray hair at sideburns; watery blue eyes; father made him girls guardian; cantankerous old man (372) of the Killiecrankie McRaes (381)
Bartholomew Patrick O'Grady[Secondary Character] Doc; watery, bloodshot eyes; round, rosy face topped by halo of white bushy hair; nose and breath named him a drinker (82) proud Irishman; 5' tall; Bartholomew Patrick O'Grady; blessed on of land of Erin; Medical Officer of the First Regiment of the Irish Brigade (83)
Angelina Ortega[Brief Appearances] wet nurse (210)
Oran Phelps[Brief Appearance] stagecoach driver (12)
Putnam[Rare Appearances] RosaRoja ranch hand; went for Doc, Rikker (59)
Don Ramon Ramirez[No Appearance] father to Sancho and Elena; like a king; RosaRoja his kingdom; answered to no one; would not re-register new land grant with Santa Fe when Mexico lost war in 1848 (131)
Elena [Ramirez][Major Secondary Character] lurching gait (49) stunningly beautiful face (58) limped (60) soft musical voice; black up-tilted eyes; flawless heart-shaped face; smile that rivaled Brady's; most beautiful woman Jessica had ever seen; terribly crippled; in pain with every halting step; welcoming smile; kind eyes (92) the image of her mother; Sancho's sister (93) black hair (285)
Maria Ramirez[No Appearance] mother to Sancho and Elena; Jacob's lover; planted hundred rose bushes to commemorate birth of son (48) fabled rose of RosaRoja (93) faint of heart (160)
Sancho Ramirez[Major Secondary Character] freed from prison after 10 years; burned his own parents; fighting with Brady for years over old Spanish land grant (20) wispy long gray hair shipping around his face; bad knee; limped (47) forgot things; mind forgetting present, slipping into horrors of the past; gaunt face; gaps where teeth used to be (48) killed mother (48) haggard appearance; damaged leg; neither weak nor slow; solid shoulders; arms knotted from being worked like a mule; fast hands; artist with a knife (49) "He is more animal than human now." (177) scraggly beard; dark, almond-shaped eyes (267)
Rawlins[Brief Appearance] riding with Paco and Sancho (129)
Red[Rare Appearances] one of displaced children from war (61)
Sheriff Rikker[Secondary Character] slightly more talkative than Buck; a quiet seeker; patient as a faro dealer; persistent as a bad tooth; fair man; not given to rash impulses or hasty decisions; single-minded dedication to the law brought him great respect but few close friends (69) gray stubble on chin (70) tobacco-yellowed teeth; crooked grin (71) deliberate, slow talker (196)
Rodriquez[Rare Appearances] RosaRoja ranch hand (60)
Rufus[Brief Appearances] RosaRoja ranch hand; "Ru" (60) orphaned at 10-y-o; with Wilkins ever since (61)
Sanchez[No Appearance] RosaRoja ranch hand; lung shot (140)
Sandoval[Brief Appearances] bunkhouse cook (57)
Mike Sheedy[No Appearance] doctor who learned much during the war; in San Francisco (155) willing to operate on Elena (278)
Adrian [Thornton][No Appearance] Jessica's father; abandoned Jessica (6)
Adrian Benjamin Thornton[Secondary Character] Jessica's son (224)
George Adrian Thornton[No Appearance] Jessica's brother (13)
Victoria Thornton[Brief Appearance] Jessica's stillborn daughter (200)
Tobias[Brief Appearances] "Toby"; RosaRoja ranch hand (100)
Andrew Jackson "Jack" Wilkins[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 3] Brady's brother (25) usual grin (55) the hothead (58) self-professed reputation as a backdoor Romeo and expert on women (59) Jackson (68) young; sandy hair; not as tall as Brady; leaner than Brady; Andrew Jackson Wilkins (90) outrageous; charming; full of energy; opposite of Brady; blond; volatile; undisciplined (96) impressionable; open hearted; viewed life in the simple; Wedgewood blue eyes (181) guileless as a kid; hard to read (357)
Grandpa Brady [Wilkins][No Appearance] Brady's grandfather; black Irishman with bent toward mischief until he got religion (224)
Katherine Brady Wilkins[No Appearance] died 1859 (192) Brady's mother; fragile (160)
Patrick Henry "Hank" Wilkins [Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 2] Brady's brother (25) beefy hand; dark brown eyes (55) middle brother; close to neither Brady nor Jack; preferred predictability of numbers or quiet companionship of animals to constant bickering of brothers (56) the reluctant peacemaker; not mean-hearted; "preferred being around creatures that didn't feel the need to muddy a fine day with a lot of words or emotion" (58) beard (66) biggest in family and within 100 miles; gentlest, especially with anything helpless; cross him, lie to him or get temper up, unstoppable (67) features nearly hidden behind mop of dark brown hair and untrimmed beard (90)Patrick Henry Wilkins (90) rarely spoke; well masked by full beard and shaggy hair; intelligent; dark, assessing eyes; curiosity behind fierce concentration; lonely; vulnerability in a powerfully physical male; made one feel safe and protected (96) astonishing grin that had women panting like racehorses (98) dark brown eyes (147) the reasonable one; the family conscience (177) born with knack for figures; could store the most astounding facts (365)
Rachel Charlotte Wilkins[No Appearance] died 1859; Brady's baby sister (192)
Samuel Adams Wilkins[No Appearance] Brady's youngest brother; died; Brady blamed Jacob (62) Paco and Sancho killed him (133) Samuel Adams Wilkins; died 1859 (192) red hair, freckles (195)

Locations, Organizations, Terms Found In "Pieces of Sky"
Location / Organization Description
1869Year the story takes place (1)
Baltimorewhere Kinderly's came from (10)
Bickersham Hall, Posten Cross, Northumberland, EnglandJessica's home (5) lies in middle of richest coal vein in Northumberland (229) passed down through the elder daughters of Jessica's mother's line ever since it was granted as a dower property in sixteenth century (230)
Blue Mesaoverlooked the Wilkins Ranch (2)
Boot Creekwhere Langley found Paco (175)
Fort Unionwhere Colonel Kinderly stationed (10)
French Passcoach axle broke leaving passengers stranded in canyon below (56)
New Mexico TerritoryBook Setting (1)
Palovarlocation where Sancho locked 6 in coach and burned them (21)
Pamphlet 5Jessica wrote; how lady comported herself (5)
pieces of skyturquoise gemstones favored by indigenous Americans (15)
Rio Hondotroopers had to deliver Kinderlys to Rio Hondo before returning to help Brady search for Sancho (146)
The Red Rose Ranch
Wilkins ranch; named for roses planted by previous owners; quite a spread; part of an old grant; sold for back taxes after the Mexican war (32) description (48) 88,000 acre spread (100)
Sacramento MountainsBrady saw in the distance (3)
San Pedro location where Sancho recruited Haskins (49)
Sante Fewhere Kinderly's headed (10)
SocorroJessica's final destination (15) Indian country (31)
Stilton Hotel, Thewhere Brady staying in London (373)
Val Rosaclosest city to RosaRoja Ranch
Vintin Canyonmove Reservation herd to this canyon (274)
Wilkins Cattle and Miningrenamed ranch (370)

"Pieces of Sky" Quotations
29"Just figured before you go correcting people, you ought to get it right."   (Brady)
62"I suspect she reads too."   Where else would she learn to use so many words to say so little?   (Brady)
124Women, he'd found, needed to talk.   And listening, or pretending to, was the price a man had to pay to maintain peace.   It did little good to try and make sense of what they said.   (Brady)
161terror strips away everything -- hope, reason, even love.   Ultimately, all that's left is the need to escape.   (Jessica)
299"Difficult?"   He had to laugh.   "Hell, I'm so easy it's embarrassing."   He pulled her back down.   "Okay.   I'm seduced.   Now what?"   (Brady)
307"I do rise when you enter the room.   That's why I don't stand up."   (Brady)
308"You're here."   He spread his palm over his heart.   Inside me.   Part of me forever.   If I raise my hand against you, I hurt myself.   If I disrespect you, I bring shame on myself.   Whether you stay with me or not, that will never change. . . .  
"But if you stay, Jessica, I'll never abandon you.   Or lie to you.   And no matter what, I'll never stop loving you.   Every day, all day, for all the days I have left.   That's how you fit into my life."   (Brady)
329A man needed something to hold on to.   Something bigger than himself.   If he couldn't build something lasting and worthwhile, what was all the struggle for?   (Brady)
346"A woman defines herself by the people she loves.   She calls herself wife, mother, sister, daughter.   But a man defines himself by what he does.   . . ."   (Elena)

"Kaki Warner -- Pieces of Sky" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Kaki Warner's WebsiteAuthor
----Kaki Warner's FacebookAuthor
----Kaki Warner's TwitterAuthor
----Kaki Warner's BlogAuthor
. . . . . . . . .. . .
B+ / warm01-11-2010All About Romance--Lynn Spencer // excellent
4.58 average{47 reviews}Amazonas of: May 9, 2013
B+01-15-2010Babbling About Books and More--KT Grant // excellent // {a43} {gr4}
4.50 average{38 ratings}Barnes & Nobleas of: May 9, 2013
--03-26-2010Bloggin' 'bout BooksArticle: Kaki Warner: Mormon Mentions // funny
--03-30-2010Bloggin' 'bout BooksInterview
B03-30-2010Bloggin' 'bout Books--Susan // great review // unique perspective
4.5001-15-2010Book Binge--Kati // excellent
5.0002-23-2013Coffee Time Romance--Danielle // okay, felt too PR-ish
--02-10-2010Dear AuthorIntro Interview // very enlightening / enjoyed
--06-30-2011Dear AuthorRITA Best First Book Nominees, Part 2 // interesting
4.7512-17-2009Errant Dreams Reviews--Rene // great review
----Fantastic FictionList of Kaki Warner's Books
----Fict FactList of Books In The "Blood Rose Trilogy"
----Fiction DBList of Kaki Warner's Books
--03-18-2013Five ScribesFollow up: Kaki's success after becoming a Sandy Finalist
4.02 average{129 reviews}Good Readsas of: May 9, 2013
3.0002-23-2012Inside the Mind of a Bibliophile--Eustacia Tan // a bit disjointed / non-romance reader {gr43}
3.89 average{28 ratings}Library Thingas of: May 9, 2013
78--Mrs. Gigglestypically harsh
4.0011-....-2009Night Owl Romance--Terri // okay
5.0004-17-2010Once Upon A Chapter--Stephanie // great review, concise {gr17}
3.80 average{14 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: May 9, 2013
--01-29-2011Petticoats and PistolsKaki Warner Article: Realism in Western Romance // funny and enlightening
--07-23-2010Petticoats and PistolsKaki Warner Article: Westerns, Sex and Romance // funny and enlightening
4.0006-15-2012Regan's Romance Reviews--Regan Walker // love her reviews // excellent {a7} {gr47}
--02-28-2010Romance B(u)y The Book--Michelle Buonfiglio // about western-set novels
4.0010-29-2010Romance Junkies--Lydia Ferrari // said nothing
--02-17-2010Romance Reader At HeartKaki Warner Interview
----RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviews"Message From The Author" // interesting
4.50 / Top Pick--RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviews2010 First Historical Romance Nominee
3.86 average{14 reviews}Shelfarias of: May 9, 2013
4.0001-24-2010The Romance Reader--Jean Mason // lots of good story line detail // great review
--02-12-2010The Romance Reader--Cathy Sova // New Faces -- Kaki Warner Interview
--01-10-2010The SeekersKaki Warner Interview
4.9005-10-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Pieces of Sky review link to table, just ask

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