Sunday, June 9, 2013

Kaki Warner -- Heartbreak Creek

Kaki Warner -- Heartbreak Creek

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.85}
Action: ♠♠♠.♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣.♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠
Action: 3.5 / Emotion: 4.5 / Romance: 4.0 / Sensuous: 1.0 / Suspense: 3.0  //  Historical Flavor: 4.0 / Laughter: 13 / Grins: 3 // Tears: 2 / Teary: 1

  2012 : RITA Finalist -- Best Historical Romance
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Setting:     Rose Hill Plantation, Sycamore Parish, Louisiana
                  Highline Ranch, Colorado
                  Heartbreak Creek, Colorado
Era:           1870
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Kaki Warner has another winner on her hands.   Heartbreak Creek, the first book in The Runaway Brides Trilogy is a humorous, emotional, intriguing read -- from the first page until the last.

When Warner first introduced Edwina Pricilla Whitney Ladoux, standing in Rose Hill Plantation watching the banker, Bernard Alexander, arrive so she could sign away the home that had been in her family for the past seventy-five years, it was difficult to immediately warm up to her because she seemed an unworthy heroine simply because she had no worthwhile skills.   After all, who wants to read about a woman whose call to fame is {1} flirting, {2} creating a scene, {3} attending parties, and {4} displaying parlor tricks like divining water?   What did grab your attention, however, was the extremely close relationship Edwina had to her half sister, Prudence "Pru" Lincoln.

Even though it was obvious that Edwina saw Pru as her equal, it was equally apparent that Edwina was still looking at the relationship through rose-colored glasses.   Edwina had endured the hardships that came about as a result of the Civil War -- her home destroyed, her lack of funds, and dealing with the prejudices regarding Pru.

She had heard the talk and seen the resentment in the eyes that followed Pru.   And the hunger.   Pru was a beautiful woman of mixed blood -- an unforgivable thing to some.   She was also better educated than most white men and carried herself with a quiet dignity that roused spite and envy -- in whites and blacks.   (Edwina, page 69)

But what was abundantly apparent were the differences between Edwina and Pru.   While Edwina had endured the years of hardship forced upon her by the deprivations of the war, she still came across as the pampered southern belle.   Pru, on the other hand was mired in the realities of life.   She may have been more intelligent and practical than Edwina, but she acknowledged that her role was subservient to Edwina's -- she knew how to cook and clean -- and how to sit in the back seat.

One of the few disappointing things about this story was the lack of background details given with regard to the demise of the three parents of these two girls.   Since this story is not about how Edwina and Pru managed to be the sole survivors of Rose Hill Plantation, but rather a tool to force a genteel southern lady to leave Louisiana to head for Colorado, these events were not vital to the plot.   But that didn't preclude the arrival of unanswered questions, like {1} how long have Edwina and Pru been on their own; {2} when and how did {a} Pricilla Whitney, Edwina's mother, {b} Ester Lincoln, Pru's mother, and {c} Charles Whitney, Edwina and Pru's father, die?

Other questions that arose regarding Edwina's background had to do with her quick and short marriage to Shelly Ladoux.   Yes, it was implied that nine years ago, when they were seventeen, Edwina married Shelly to, basically, escape the horror of living with her mother.   However, it seemed Warner engineered this marriage for two other reasons: {1} to give Edwina an abhorrence of the consummation process and {2} to instill even more insecurities into the most sought afer belle of Sycamore Parish.

Much later in the story, it also became obvious that this short marriage was also going to be the instrument to pull off those rose-colored glasses that Edwina used when looking at her relationship with Pru.   However, the question that arose regarding Edwina's marriage was this: if Edwina entered into this quick marriage to escape her mother, how did she manage to do that -- since Shelly left for the war the day after the wedding (and the night of the horrible coupling between two fumbling seventeen-year-olds)?   Did Edwina go to live with Shelly's parents?   Or did she continue to live at Rose Hill Plantation to stay close to Pru?

But all of these questions were irrelevant to the plot of this book.   Because her skills as a seamstress could not support Edwina and Pru and because of the presence of evil-intentioned men flocking to the south, Edwina answered an advertisement in the Matrimonial News to become a mail-order bride.   Only she was less than honest with the rancher who sent her the money and train tickets to come to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado.   Robert Declan Brodie had advertised:

Honest, hard-working widower, age thirty-three, seeks sturdy English-speaking woman to help with mountain ranch and four children.   Drinkers, whores, and gamblers need not apply.   (Page 6)

Warner is truly talented at understanding girl talk and drawing readers deep into the lives of her characters.   This skill is evident when she introduced the two women who are going to be featured in the next two books of The Runaway Brides Trilogy.   Warner detailed the scene outside the train coming to a halt before it reached Heartbreak Creek because the Damnation Creek trestle had washed out.   (See Warner's interview regarding her research on train travel in the old west on Regan's Romance Reviews.)

As Edwina and Pru are arguing about why the train might be stopping and about their appearance, Lucinda Hathaway, a smartly dressed, worldly New Yorker, interrupts to ask:

"Are you truly arguing about which of you is less attractive?"   (Lucinda, page 14)

Lucinda introduces her traveling companion, Madeline "Maddie" Wallace, and just that quickly the four women bonded in that special way that women who are facing adversity together unite.   (By the way, another question arose here: how did Lucinda and Maddie come to be traveling together?)

Warner did a great job of inspiring interest in both Lucinda and Maddie as she continued to tell Edwina's story.   You could not help but wonder (along with Edwina) what the worldly-wise Lucinda was hiding in the valise that she would not let out of her sight as the ladies were ferried to the small mining town of Heartbreak Creek.   By the time the book comes to an end, Warner has painted Lucinda with enough varied colors, and kept those colors just dim enough to infuse a burning desire to read her story (book three, Bride of the High Country).

Warner successfully imbued an interest in Maddie as well.   Rather than looking at the harshness of world through knowledgeably hard eyes, Maddie was Lucinda's exact opposite.   Edwina could not help but admire Maddie for setting off on her own adventure, leaving hearth and home behind.   As the story progressed and Maddie constantly bubbled about how much she loved her husband, Angus Wallace, and about how wonderful he was in bed, you cannot help but want to read her story (book two, Colorado Dawn).   Maddie left Scotland because she could no longer tolerate living with Angus's family while he marched off to war.   The Illustrated London News was paying Maddie, an expeditionary photographer, to capture the American West from a woman's perspective.   You cannot help but wonder, however, how Warner is going to write an entire book about the difficulties facing Angus and Maddie when it is obvious that Maddie is head over heels in love with Angus.

One of the recurring themes that runs through this entire story is the friendship that continues to solidify between these four women.   Warner entertains readers by delivering conversations between these women who cannot help but discuss men and Edwina constantly worries because her chest isn't 'pointy' enough.   Warner is so skilled at taking a unique trait like small breasts and cleverly using that feature to entertain readers numerous times during the important events that occur throughout the story.

Another skill that Warner utilizes with great competence when introducing the hero to the heroine is contrasting their differences and engaging the reader by revealing their mental thought processes.   When Declan walks up to Pru and Edwina as they wait outside the Heartbreak Creek Hotel to meet Edwina's husband by proxy, Warner paints a bold, vivid mental picture of their mutual disappointment in the other with her words.   The inclusion of the stranger walking by added wonderful humor to the scene.

Edwina told herself not to look, but found her head turning anyway.   A quick glance, and then she faced forward again, a sense of relief coursing through her.   A well-dressed man, wearing a smart bowler hat and finely tailored suit.   She'd only had a glimpse, but he had seemed presentable.   Older than she'd expected, perhaps.   And rounder, and a bit hairier with that flaring mustache, but presentable, nonetheless.   A benign man.   Easily managed.   She let out a deep exhale.   Thank you, Lord.   (Edwina, page 32)

And then there is the picture Warner paints of Declan.

He was huge, bristly-jawed, scowling and not presentable at all.   He didn't even do them the courtesy of removing his dusty Stetson when addressing her, and -- merciful heavens -- was that a gun in his belt?

Edwina is so mired in her distress that she refuses to believe that this big, harsh man was her husband.   She decides that this man that Yancey, the hotel clerk, referred to as 'Big Bob' was her husband's hired hand, sent to pick her up and deliver her to Highline Ranch.   So Declan bundles Pru and Edwina into his wagon and heads out to his ranch.   Edwina's opinion of 'Big Bob' deteriorates.   During a trip behind the bushes, Edwina tells Pru:

"He's a cretin," . . .   "Dumber than wet mud.   A giant mute with the brains of a flea and the personality of a pound of rancid lard."   (Edwina, page 41)

When Edwina finally realizes that 'Big Bob' is her husband, Warner finally finishes painting their contrasting personalities by presenting an insight into Declan's disappointment in his new wife.   But not before entertaining us with quite the humorous discussion between Declan and Edwina about her truly awful name.   (You will be happy to know that by the end of the book, Declan referred to Edwina as Ed -- and that the nickname was a good fit.)

Declan didn't consider himself a humorless man.   . . .   He'd even managed to maintain his good humor and not let his dismay show when he first saw his bride that morning on the boardwalk outside the Heartbreak Creek Hotel.
Definitely not the sturdy farm woman he'd envisioned, but a bedraggled, rail-thin beauty in a ridiculous hat, who appeared every bit as shocked and disappointed in him and he was in her.   (Declan, page 46)

Declan, Edwina and Pru arrive at Highline Ranch and Warner continued to weave her magic into her storytelling.   There are several issues that Edwina is going to have to face before she finds her happily-ever-after with Declan.   The first and most obvious is how to whip Declan and his four slovenly, rambunctious children into mannered human beings.   Warner utilizes the tried and true axiom of the way to a man (and his kids)'s heart is through his stomach.   So even though Edwina can't boil water, Pru is there to teach her.   And without the appearance of one inedible meal, Edwina miraculously becomes a competent cook and a skilled housekeeper.

Even though the children did not take up a great many pages in the book, their appearances in the story were well-placed and beautifully written.   Warner included some really wonderful scenes in the book between Edwina and Declan's four children.   The scene where Edwina lays down the rules to {1} silent, hard working, almost fourteen, Robert Declan "R.D." Brodie, Jr, {2} Joe Bill Brodie, the nine-year-old prankster who most missed his mother, {3} the sad, solitary, tinkerer, eight-year-old Lucas Brodie, and {4} Brin Brodie, the dirty almost seven year old daughter who wore her brothers' clothes and echoed whatever Joe Bill said was so hilarious that it was impossible to keep reading because could not see the words on the pages past the tears of laughter.

Warner proved that she knew what she was doing when she gave Edwina a personality worthy of a heroine after all.   These wounded children did not need a sturdy, gruff, work-all-day farmer's wife to mother them, they needed the vivacious, fun, free-spirited, but steel-willed Edwina, who would not allow anyone, including their father, to hit them -- ever.   Edwina had her own ghosts to deal with.

Edwina had scars, too, although other than a few pale strips across her back, they were more of a subtle kind, the kind that festered in the soul and left behind invisible wounds of doubt and guilt and distrust.   (Edwina, page 13)

Warner detailed the physical and mental scars that Pru and Edwina bore at the hands of Edwina's bitter, jealous mother.   Edwina refused to be the kind of mother that she grew up with.

She had seen the same bitterness in her mother, and knew how it poisoned all who came within her reach.   Declan and the children deserved better.   (Edwina, page 300)

Warner has a tendency to include a character or two into the story that embraced the bathing habits that were a true representation of old westerners.   In this story, Declan's two occasionally appearing ranch hands filled that role.   The addition of these two men also indicated that Declan had a compassionate and understanding nature to hire such less than hardy men.   Amos Hicks was a binge-drinking ex-preacher and Chick McElroy wore a peg leg to replace the one lost to snake bite.   Edwina was thankful that these odoriferous hands did not join the family at meal time.

Thomas Redstone, Declan's friend, played a vital role in book.   Declan left his children in the care of Thomas when he traveled to Heartbreak Creek to pick up his new bride.   Warner begins fleshing out the personality of Thomas, the mostly Cheyenne, ex-Dog Soldier of mixed blood, who is unsure of his place in the world.   Does he belong in the red man's world or the white man's world?   It is no surprise that Thomas is interested in Pru, who must traverse the same confusing path.

Warner is a publisher's answer to selling future books.   During the telling of Declan's and Edwina's story, Warner begins to insert events that greatly affect Thomas and Pru.   First, Edwina must face the fact that Pru has been harboring some resentments towards her during all their years.

The never spoke of Pru's scars.   . . .   (Edwina)
"Do what?   Face the truth?"   Pru swept a hand down her robed chest.   "That no man could look at this and not be repulsed?"   (Pru, page 178)
"You're being unfair."   (Edwina)
"Unfair!"   Lifting her face to the ceiling, Pru laughed bitterly.   "And what do you know about fair and unfair?   You, who have everything."   (Pru, page 179)

Pru is going through some radical changes that happen off the pages of book.   After a particularly harrowing incident, Thomas takes Pru into the mountains to a sweat lodge to try and bring her to a place of peace.   When Thomas and Pru return, Edwina can see that Pru is little better and that she has refused to let Thomas anywhere near her wounded heart.   It was a relief to learn that Thomas and Pru's story will be told in the third book of Warner's next trilogy, The Heros of Heartbreak Creek.

Edwina does not understand it, but for some reason she is drawn to the big, secretive man that she married.   And even though Declan swore he would never again let a woman into his heart after his first wife betrayed him, he finds himself seeking comfort from Edwina.   Warner does a great job of letting the romance build between Declan and Edwina as they interact on a daily basis on the ranch.   When Declan takes the family with him to Heartbreak Creek to sell cattle, Edwina is entranced by Declan's first kiss, which was nothing like Shelly's and decides she wants another.   Warner is gifted when it comes to writing lustful innuendo as the attraction between Declan and Edwina escalates to the place where Declan convinces Edwina she would enjoy the consummation process with him.

Sadly, since Warner does not put spice in her lovemaking scenes, it came as no surprise that the love scenes were closed door.   In spite of the lack of sensuality, the romance in the story flowed smoothly between all the other events happening in the book.

Loved the personality that Warner gave to Declan.   Declan was a true pioneer and even though he was too silent for Edwina's liking, his actions proclaimed him a man of compassion and discernment.   Declan is sometimes overwhelmed with the trails and tribulations facing him -- a man struggling to carve a place for himself in the Colorado Rockies.   He must work a 60,000-acre spread with 3,000 head of cattle while trying to raise four children and instead of being blessed with a woman who can help him (like Pru, for instance), he is saddled with a frivolous woman, who reminds him of his first wife.   But, just as Declan admits that he failed in his first marriage because he was more concerned about building his ranch than catering to his wife, he sees that his initial assessment of Ed was off too.   She turned out to be the solace to his empty soul.

This wasn't about needing someone to help with the chores and his children.   Or about wanting a woman in his bed.   Or using one woman to help him forget his guilt over another.
It was about ending the loneliness that seemed to choke off a little more of his hope every day.   About letting go of doubt and distrust, and the mistakes of the past.   (Declan, page 204)

While the Brodie family was in town, Edwina heard the rumors regarding Declan and his first wife, Sally, who ran away with Luther "Slick" Craven.   One particularly vindictive citizen, Alice Waltham, refused to quit spreading rumors that Declan was somehow responsible for Sally's demise -- that she was not killed when Arapaho renegades attacked the stage she and Craven had taken.   What a let down when Warner did not entertain us with a humorous scene in which Edwina, in steel magnolia style, gave Alice a dose of comeuppance.   The confrontation Edwina had with Alice was just too tame.

The reason Declan felt compelled to take his family to Heartbreak Creek with him was because Lone Tree, a renegade Arapaho was targeting Declan in revenge.   When Declan had been the sheriff of Heartbreak Creek (1863-1866), he had to put Lone Tree in jail for fighting.   Because Lone Tree was claustrophobic, he went a bit crazy during his incarceration.   Lone Tree wanted Declan to pay for not only jailing him, but also witnessing his shame when he 'broke'.   While the family was in town (and Edwina convinced Declan to take her to a shivaree because she loved to dance), Lone Tree attacked Highline Ranch and Declan's neighbors Jubal and Mildred Parker.

Declan wired Fort Lasswell for aid.   Lieutenant Haywood Guthrie, Sergeant Quinlan, and a troop of soldiers joined Declan and Thomas as they tracked Lone Tree to try and end his attacks.   Since the publishers made the truly horrific decision to include in the back cover synopsis of the story that Sally, Declan's first wife, was to enter into the picture to put a great big stumbling block in Declan and Edwina's road to happiness, it was no surprise to readers when Lone Tree presented Declan with his battered and bruised first wife.   Now Declan and Edwina encounter the dilemma facing them -- do they chose the guilt-induced moral road, or the happily-ever-after road.   Yes, this twist added great interest and intrigue in the story, but it would have been so much more entertaining if the shock to readers has been as great as the shock to Declan.

As expected, the book ended with the action-packed, nail-biting finale in which Declan and Edwina must confront Lone Tree.   And, even though it took a bit too long to come about, the 'ah, that was so sweet' closing where Declan and the children reveal their love for Ed was a beautiful ending to a well-told story.

A note about the historical accuracy of this book.   Warner is very talented when it comes to describing what the landscape of Colorado must have been like in the 1870s.   And she gets the clothing, method of travel, and structures right but for some reason she lets modernistic language leave the mouths of her characters.   For instance, this one word sounds very much like Pru is communicating in 2013 wordspeak -- definitely not a well-educated woman of 1870!

"Whatever," Pru said.   (page 177)

Would quickly and readily recommend Heartbreak Creek, Kaki Warner's first book in The Runaway Brides Trilogy, to any lover of the romance genre, but in particular to those who love a good western romance.   Warner told a great story that was so engrossing that it was difficult to put this book down.   The features of this book that mark it as a beautifully-written, unforgettable story include: {1} Declan, a big, strong, handsome, alpha hero who portrayed a true pioneer spirit; {2} Edwina, a beautiful, spunky, steel-willed heroine who turned out to be the perfect match for Declan; {3} enough action to keep the story from turning dull; {4} a strong emotional connection to the hero and heroine evidenced by laughter and tears; {5} a touching romance that built between two wounded protagonists; {6} an underlying degree of suspense pervaded the entire story; {7} wonderfully entertaining dialogue between {a} the 'girls' (Edwina, Pru, Lucinda, Maddie) and {b} the 'guys' (Declan and Thomas); {8} infusing a historical ambiance of Colorado in the 1870s; {9} the addition an exceptionally-written secondary characters to the cast; and {10} the prospect of meeting many of these same characters again in future books.
--Vonda M. Reid (Saturday, June 8, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.)     [316]

Books In The Series: "The Runaway Brides Trilogy"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.07-2011Heartbreak CreekRobert Declan Brodie, rancher, sheriffEdwina Pricilla Whitney Ladoux, southern belle
02.01-2012Colorado DawnAngus Wallace, Scottish Cavalry OfficerMadeline "Maddie" Wallace, expeditionary photographer
03.06-2012Bride of the High CountryDoyle Kerrigan, railroad mogulLucinda Hathaway / Margaret Hamilton, hotel owner

Characters Found In "Heartbreak Creek"
Character Description
Robert Declan Brodie[Hero] honest; hard-working; widower; 33-y-o (6) strong determination; well respected; tall; clean-shaven; dark hair (7) huge; bristly jaw; scowl; deep voice; Stetson; gun on hip; stern features (32) battered sheepskin coat; unbleached work shirt; worn denims; 3-day growth of dark beard; square jaw; tired (33) dark brown eyes (34) piercing gaze; "Big Bob"; owned Highline Ranch (35) served as sheriff; sun-browned skin (36) big hand, surprisingly elegant, with wide palms and long, blunt-tipped fingers, beat up and calloused; little finger on left hand had once been broken and healed crookedly with outward bend (41) taciturn; disapproving looks; high-handed ways; rough manners; sensible; straightforward; impatient; stubborn; doesn't talk much (43) wicked grin; Robert Declan Brodie (44) low, rich voice (45) sense of humor (46) wife gone 4 years (54) tiny crow tracks spreading from the corners of his eyes toward his temples; a white scar disappearing into the dark stubble above his top lip; scar cutting through his left eyebrow; sable brown eyes so deeply set his long lashes almost touched his brows; wisps of dark curling hair hanging below hat (57) strong profile; bold nose; square jaw; complicated (59) afraid of heights (62) errant lock of glossy black hair slide over his forehead (81) sheriff of Heartbreak Creek from 1863-1866; bought ranch in 1858 (124) magnificent; perfectly proportioned (201) austere face, angular and uncompromising; a strong, capable man; gentle touch despite his great size (210) raised on a Missouri bottom-land farm by second-generation farmer (226)
Edwina Pricilla Whitney Ladoux[Heroine] widow; impulsive; high-spirited; thrived on scenes; well-bred, well-trained southern lady of quality; drama was her weapon; pride was her strength; core of determination; sole survivor of Whitney family; inherited Rose Hill Plantation (2) Catholic (3) mail-order bride (6) thin, willowy frame (6) knew nothing about cooking or tending children (8) once the reigning belle of Sycamore Parish (9) 26-y-o; subtle scars left on soul by mother; guilt-ridden; full of doubt; distrustful (13) less than ample bosom; superb bone structure; magnolia skin; glorious brown hair; soulful forget-me-nots blue eyes were her best feature (14) barely supported herself and Pru as seamstress (15) raised in lap of luxury; barely knew how to survive; skills included: flirting, performing parlor tricks (20) 17-y-o when married Shelly 9-y-a (25) impatient; easily bored (39) spoke three languages, if counted church Latin and French patois (42) mn: Pricilla (45) nice pear-shaped butt; trim waist; nice ankles (48) pretty blue eyes, full of life (49) impractical; flighty (51) hot-tempered emotional sort (54) sweet; kind-hearted; fiercely loyal; smart (70) soft musical voice when not preaching (88) "Ed" (96) fierce; courageous (111) left handed (134) made lists; make her feel in control (144) impulsive; naïve (145) never went at anything in half measures; her high spirits drew people in (171) core of steel beneath her gracious smile (307)
. . .. . .
Buck Aldrich[Rare Appearances] Heartbreak Creek deputy; capable; intelligent; young man; lost left hand in accident in mine; single; family lived in Heartbreak Creek valley 20 years; stayed in back room of sheriff's office (291) blond hair (292)
Bernard Alexander[One Appearance] tall; thin; banker for the Whitney family; inherited job from father and grandfather (1) owned Bayou Bank and Trust (4)
Judge Aucion[No Appearance] married Edwina to Declan via proxy (6)
Cal Bagley[One Appearance] proprietor of Bagley's Mercantile, Feed, and Mining Supplies; buck-toothed (149) "He's just a wad of hair with teeth stuck in it." (150)
Billy[Occasional Appearances] bellboy at Heartbreak Creek Hotel; freckled-faced boy; auburn hair (128)
Eldridge Blankenship[No Appearance] wanted to marry Edwina; not a Klansman; not a carpetbagger; beaver teeth; wanted children (28)
Doc Boyce[Occasional Appearances] Heartbreak Creek doctor (166) old man; bony shoulders; spectacles; protruding ears; sharply intelligent blue eyes; in his 60s (302)
Janet Boyce[No Appearance] Doc's wife; took shine to Edwina (302)
Brin Brodie[Major Secondary Character] Declan's daughter; 7-y-o next month; so pretty will take your breath away; irregular ways since grew up without the influence of a woman (60) dirty; brothers' clothes; R.D.'s old slouch hat (63) tattler; gray eyes (68) dark, tangled curls; simply echoed whatever Joe Bill said (72)
Joe Bill Brodie[Major Secondary Character] Declan's son; prankster (53) 9-y-o; like mother in looks and temperament; took mother's passing hard; trickster (60) blond; singed banks (68) refused to acknowledge loss of mother (72) hazel eyes (96) fascinated by facial hair since had none (194) tall; gangly (212)
Lucas Brodie[Major Secondary Character] Declan's son; 8-y-o; smart as a whip; happy child until mother left; off in his own little world, reading, drawing, taking things apart and putting them back together (60) same sad look on his thin face (72) no meanness in him; a curious and troubled boy (100) soft brown eyes, shade lighter than father's, just as expressive; sun-tipped hair slid down his forehead like his dad (101) uneven cut of light brown hair (102) artistic talent (107) light brown hair (288)
Robert Declan "R.D." Brodie, Jr.[Major Secondary Character] Declan's son; "R.D."; going on 14; big for his age; doesn't talk much; hard worker; eyes like an eagle; sharp eyes; good hunter (60) wide, toothy grin like father (105)
Sally Brodie[Brief Appearance] Declan's first wife (65) abandoned her children; killed by Arapaho; loved her children (109) ran off with Slick (110) flighty (130) tiny thing; hadn't liked dancing with Declan (170) thin; sun-browned face; flyaway blond hair; Joe Bill's hazel eyes; Brin's smile (285) vindictive; lost, brutalized woman (300)
Colonel Carr[No Appearance] utilized Pawnee scouts (108)
Reginald Farnsworth Chesterfield[No Appearance] Maddie's publisher (284)
Ed Church[No Appearance] Heartbreak Creek telegraph operator (241)
Luther "Slick" Craven[No Appearance] man that Sally ran away with (110)
Frederick[No Appearance] from Sycamore Parish; gay (139)
Emmet Gebbers[Occasional Appearances] both banker and mayor of Heartbreak Creek; lost 2 sons in war; still carried grief in eyes; treated Declan fairly when rumors started (161)
Mrs. Gebbers[One Appearance] Emmet's wife; lost 2 sons in war; still carried grief in eyes; soft smile; a beauty 30-y-a; looked tired and broken; treated Declan fairly when rumors started (161)
Charles Goodyear[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] created rubber sheaths (28)
President Grant[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] current U.S. President (20)
Lieutenant Haywood Guthrie[Occasional Appearances] from Fort Lasswell; brought troop to Heartbreak Creek to access Indian uprising (176) lieutenant 2 years; lieutenant 5 years before that; German; couldn't tolerate rank stupidity (186) old scar on chin showed pale under dark stubble of his beard (186)
Tom Hamilton[No Appearance] took over as Heartbreak Creek sheriff after Declan; marrying Alice Waltham (135)
Lucinda Hathaway [Major Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 3] blond; smartly dressed young woman; green eyes dancing with amusement; slight upward tilt at corner of beautiful eyes; hard knowledge; knowing smile; worldly-wise weariness beneath her cool green eyes; clipped English accent (14) gold ear bobs; fine fabric of traveling cloak; pretty woman (15) cynical outlook (23) worldly New Yorker (24) innate pragmatism (31) "Luce" (130) smart as a whip; hard experience behind her; knew what to do in a crisis (241)
Mrs. Hebert[No Appearance] owned boardinghouse where Edwina and Pru stayed before leaving Louisiana (6)
Freddie Helmsworth[No Appearance] Edwina hit him when he called Pru bad name (206)
Amos Hicks[Secondary Character] hired hand; ex-preacher; drunk most of the time (66) drunk; tried to baptize Thomas (74) bleary middle-aged man with look of defeat (79) binge drinker (292) stuttered (293)
Jeb Kendal[No Appearance] had small log house in Heartbreak Creek (142)
Aaron Krigbaum[Occasional Appearances] mine owner; ore giving out; having to let me go (162) not particularly sociable (163) considerable bulk (291)
Cynthia Krigbaum[No Appearance] Aaron's wife; good cook (291)
Shelly Ladoux[No Appearance] Edwina's husband; 17-y-o when married; married 9-y-a; sweet boy; handsome in his sword and sash (25) lost leg in war; died of gangrene; more like friend than husband (26)
Chief Lean Bear[One Appearance] head of village where Lone Tree held Pru captive (259) wore fringed leggings, moccasins, breechcloth, long war shirt decorated with porcupine quills, shells and elk teeth; full war bonnet; young; long scar stretched from his right temple to his chin; right side of face dropped; mouth fixed in permanent frown; hard dark eyes giving away none of his thoughts (263)
Ester [Lincoln][No Appearance] Pru's mother; Edwina's mammy; everyone at Rose Hill loved her; Charles utterly devoted to her (13)
Prudence "Pru" Lincoln [Major Secondary Character] Edwina's sister; hated scenes; dark eyes (2) dark brows; avid reader (3) bore scars for protecting Edwina in their youth (4) tight dark curls (6) always neat; excessive attention to detail (10) Edwina's lifelong best friend; Edwina's confidant; instilled courage in Edwina; Edwina's half sister; shared same father (12) 27-y-o (13) web of scars marred brown skin; scars stretched up her right arm and halfway across her chest and back; burn scars inflicted by Pricilla Whitney when Pru tried to protect her little sister; beautiful (13) superb bone structure (14) took in information like a starving person gobbled up food; long, graceful fingers; full lips (21) steady calmness (25) caramel-colored skin (28) prodigious intellect (39) mulatto; beautiful woman; lively sparkle in brown eyes; smart; kind (47) never a slave; graceful hands (51) good cook (53) beautiful woman of mixed blood; better educated than most white men; carried herself with quiet dignity that roused spite and envy -- in whites and blacks (69)
Lone Tree[Secondary Character] Arapaho; raiding; hated all white men; angry because of raid at Summit Springs; raided Cox place (108) had fear of closed spaces; sought vengeance against Declan for locking him up, seeing his fear (109) wife and daughter died of flash flood while in jail (110) tall; busted nose (167) did not age well; muscle withered away; sallow tint beneath ruddy skin marked him a drinker; band of white cut through his long greasy hair; wildness in his eyes proclaimed him still a broken man (268)
Chick McElroy[Secondary Character] crippled handyman (66) ranch hand that had done most of the cooking (72) lost his leg to snake bite; wears a peg leg (74) limping, wheat-thatched, freckled young man (79) chipped front teeth; grandfather a Baptist (83)
Miriam[Occasional Appearances] waitress at Heartbreak Creek Hotel; still a teen (129)
Reverend Morton[One Appearance] came to Rose Hill Plantation with Bernard Alexander (2)
Jubal Parker[No Appearance] Declan's neighbor; added cattle to group Declan taking to Heartbreak Creek (120) killed by Lone Tree (173)
Mildred Parker[No Appearance] Jubal's wife (224) killed by Lone Tree (173)
Aunt Queenie[No Appearance] Edwina's aunt; giggles constantly (154)
Sergeant Quinlan[Occasional Appearances] Guthrie's next in command; tall; head hairless as a cannonball; cultivated impressive mustache coated with pine resin and sheep tallow to keep the ends curled like a pig's tail (194)
Thomas Redstone[Major Secondary Character] Declan's friend (46) stone black eyes; white teeth a shocking contrast to his dark ruddy skin (63) lost his band at Summit Springs, so now party of Brodie family (63) mostly Cheyenne; ex-Dog Soldier (64) mixed blood (90) stern, sharp-angled face; topknot with a feather attached, rest of long black hair hanging lose except for two small braids at his temples; blue army jacket wore as a sleeveless vest; faded pullover shirt with long sleeves and open front placket; open hipped leggings; knee-high fringed moccasins; long rectangular length of soft leather hanging past his knees, front and back, held in place by a thick belt with a bone or antler buckle (105) swarthy skin; broad forehead; high cheekbones; eyes as dark and hard as chips of coal; moved with measured deliberation; radiated restrained energy that hummed around him (106) deep voice; expressionless face; white-toothed grin completely changed his face (108) carried the spent and distorted bullet that killed his wife and son; sought vengeance (109) "A confused mixed breed caught between white and red and belonging to neither (111) solid build; quiet walk (141) Heartbreak Creek deputy; whitewashed look: trousers; cowboy work shirt; tied hair back; cut quite a figure (176)
Biddy Rickman[One Appearance] pastor's wife (264)
Pastor Rickman[One Appearance] wild gray hair; a Bible thumper from way back (264)
Harvey Ricks[One Appearance] mine overseer; killed by Lone Tree (321)
Rosemarie[No Appearance] Heartbreak Creek resident; took care of Declan's carnal needs (89) sweet, quiet, accommodating for two dollars (91)
Rusty[Animal] Brodie family dog (63)
Wilfred Satterwhite[No Appearance] Wall-eyed Willy; 73-y-o; Maddie planned to take Willy with her on her expedition (284)
Spotted Horse[One Appearance] Declan approached his village when looking for Lone Tree (246) elder; gray hair; dark eyes; wrinkle, expressionless face; lantern jaw; sharp nose (248) proud old warrior; years of strife bowed his shoulders, shrunk muscle to bone; wrists looked frail as twigs (250)
Tremont[No Appearance] Edwina's cousin; partial to ball gowns (154)
Angus [Wallace][No Appearance] Maddie's husband; Scottish; a soldier (15) wrote 2 letters in 5 years (25) member of Tenth Hussars (25) third son of an Earl (29) had been a Rifleman with Royal Green Jackets of the Light Division (168)
Madeline "Maddie" Wallace[Major Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 2] auburn hair; no artifice; ingenious, dimpled smile complimented intense chocolate brown eyes that sparkled with life and intelligence (14) wore no gloves; thick garnet ring on left hand; married; hasn't heard from Angus in 3 years; English; couldn't stay with his Scottish family; expeditionary photographer (15) tiny woman; taken on a man's vocation; traveled alone (16) cheerful optimism (23) married for love (24) can't cook (29) eternal good cheer (31) petite Englishwoman (140) unfettered imagination; lovely, lively woman (158) head in the clouds (241)
Alice Waltham[Occasional Appearances] getting married; friends with Sally; wretched, nasty woman (131) pudgy arms (163)
Mary Ann Waltham[Occasional Appearances] made fun of dress Edwina had given Brin (250) a spiteful creature, every bit as vicious as her mother; Alice's daughter; pudgy hands (251)
Judge Kelvin Witherspoon[One Appearance] to arrive in Heartbreak Creek tomorrow (292) Kelvin; slantingly white, perfectly aligned porcelain teeth; smirky smile; little dandy; carried a grudge (303)
Charles Whitney[No Appearance] Edwina's and Pru's father; devoted to Ester (13)
Pricilla Whitney[No Appearance] Edwina's mother; incapable of taking care of daughter (13)
Yancey[Occasional Appearances] hotel clerk; few remaining teeth stained; broad smile; grizzled old man; eyebrows as fat as white caterpillars (19) bald scalp (35) rust-stained teeth (36)

Locations, Organizations Found In "Heartbreak Creek"
Location / Organization Description
PrologueRose Hill Plantation, Southeastern Louisiana
Chapter OneColorado, April 1870
E. and H. T. Anthonyphotographic supplies; Maddie's supplier (132)
Anthracite Creekarea Declan and troop traveled in hunt for Pru (245)
Bagley's Mercantile, Feed, and Mining Suppliesin Heartbreak Creek (147)
Bayou Bank and Trust of Sycamore Parishnew owner of Rose Hill Plantation; Bernard Alexander's bank (4)
Bossier Citybordello in this city now had filigreed iron gate from Rose Hill Plantation (1)
Cheyenne Dog Soldiersproved their fierceness in battle by staking themselves to the ground with a lance or knife driven through the length of leather, then defending to the death the patch of ground on which they stood (106)
Colorado and Nevada Railroadrailroad Edwina and Pru took on last leg of journey to Heartbreak Creek (5)
Colorado Territorywhere majority of story takes place
Crappo TownLouisiana, horrid men in town terrorizing everyone (7)
Crystal Riverwhere Lone Tree camped (250)
Damnation Creek near Heartbreak Creek; trestle washed out (11)
Dark Canyonarea Declan and troop traveled in hunt for Pru (245)
Elderberry CreekDeclan's home in Heartbreak Creek located near this creek (174)
Fort Lasswellday away from Heartbreak Creek (170)
Heartbreak Creektown in Colorado Territory to which Edwina and Pru travel (3) description of town (17)
Heartbreak Creek Hotel bedraggled, rickety old dowager, barely clinging to the threadbare remnants of her old brief glory; sun-faded drapes; scuffed wainscoting; peeling wallpaper; once lovely oil scones now caked with soot and dust; musty air laced with stale cooking orders, tobacco smoke, and moldy carpets (18)
Highline Ranch Declan's ranch (35) 60,000-acre spread; 3,000 head of cattle (_)
Illustrated London News paying Maddie Wallace to capture the American West from a woman's perspective (15)
Matrimonial Newsnewspaper in which Declan posted his advertisement for a mail-order bride (7)
Missouri Pacific Railroadrailroad Edwina and Pru took on middle leg of journey to Heartbreak Creek (5)
New OrleansLouisiana, Edwina ordered book on trains from bookstore for Pru (8)
Ragged Mountainsarea Declan and troop traveled in hunt for Pru (245)
Red Eye Saloon next door to hotel in Heartbreak Creek (17)
Rose Hill PlantationWhitney ancestral home for 75 years (2) Edwina signed over to Bayou Bank and Trust to be auctioned off for back taxes (4)
Ruby Rangearea Declan and troop traveled in hunt for Pru (245)
Santa Lucia train stopped to fill tender with water (14)
Satan's Backbonesteep, dangerous area to traverse before reaching Highline Ranch house (61)
Summit Springs Thomas's Indian village; decimated by soldiers (258)
Sycamore ParishLouisiana; where Edwina's raised, became reigning belle (9)
Texas and New Orleans Railroadrailroad Edwina and Pru took on first leg of journey to Heartbreak Creek (5)
The Come All You Sinners Church of Heartbreak Creeka sad affair (264)
Thomsonvillenearest town to Heartbreak Creek (170)

"Heartbreak Creek" Quotations
4"I shall miss the books."   . . .   "They were like friends.   I felt safe among them."   (Pru)
52Redstone had the right of it.   A man who bought a horse without riding it first shouldn't be surprised when he was thrown.   (Declan)
88He was glad she didn't feel the need to chatter all the time, but was also bothered by it since he didn't know what she was thinking, or if she was waiting for him to speak -- about what he had no idea.   He'd never been that comfortable around women -- except for the obvious, of course, but that didn't require talking.   In social situations, he mostly felt big and awkward, not sure what he was supposed to say or what was expected of him.   (Declan)
151Not much of an apology, but then, he was a man.   (Edwina)
151He groaned.   But not aloud, but she knew him well enough now to hear what he didn't say almost as clearly as what he did.   (Edwina)
158Sometimes when she looked at her husband, or he looked at her, that air all around them seemed to grow so thin she felt like she was floating above the ground in a whirlwind of confused emotion and tingling nerves and unformed wants.   (Edwina)
160That's all.   Just Ed.   But hearing it spoken in his deep voice, and feeling the impact of that dark, unwavering stare made her feel more beautiful than she ever had.   (Edwina)
160It was like herding turtles, Declan decided, as he steering the women down the boardwalk at such a leisurely pace he had to clench his jaw to keep from yelling at them to "git along now" like he did with laggard cows.   (Declan)
171And she never went at anything in half measures, . . .   It drew people in, these high spirits.   As if her exuberance might rub off on a person if he stood close enough, making him feel a little less lonely, a little less weary, a little less burdened.   (Declan)
185"She's got the look."   //   "Like you could hand her a buffalo chip and tell her it was a biscuit and she'd believe you, just because you said so."   (Guthrie)
238"It's like something has been torn away, and there's this giant empty place inside me.   And I don't -- I don't know how to fill it."   (Edwina)
242They lapsed into silence, that awkward, waiting kind of silence that comes just before a difficult parting, when all the good-byes have been said, and all the warnings and instructions have been issued, and there's nothing left to say.   (Declan)
296"Rest," she whispered, "I'm here."   (Edwina)

"Kaki Warner -- Heartbreak Creek" 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
. . . . . . . . .. . .
Forum02-20-2013All About Romance3 posts as of June 8, 2013
A- / Subtle06-29-2011All About Romance--Pat Henshaw, Desert Isle Keeper // poor review, short on detail
4.72 average{29 reviews}Amazonas of: June 9, 2013
4.50 average{15 reviews}Barnes & Nobleas of: June 8, 2013
5.0004-08-2012Book Obsessed Chicks--Kimberly Rocha {a14} {gr29} / pretty good
B12-26-2011Book Reviews and More by Kathy--Kathy {gr24} {gr26} // excellent choice of adverbs
2.00--Book Loons--Martina Bexte // basic PR review
C10-23-2011Books, Books and More Books--Nath / mini-review // good
----Boomerang BooksPraise for Heartbreak Creek
3.5012-02-2012Errant Dreams Reviews--Heather {a11} {gr37} // made good points
5.00--Fallen Angel Reviews--Michelle B. // okay, spoke in generalities
----Fantastic FictionList of Kaki Warner's Books
----Favorite Author NotificationList of Kaki Warner's Books with publication dates
----Fict FactList of Books In The Runaway Brides Trilogy
----Fiction DBList of Kaki Warner's Books
positive09-07-2011Fresh Fiction--Heather Lobdell // pretty good
4.05 average{471 ratings}Good Readsas of: June 8, 2013
positive06-06-2012Kirsten Lynn--Kirsten Lynn // great descriptions of Declan, Ed
A07-30-2011Leslie's Psyche--Leslie {gr15} // great review
List01-01-2012Leslie's Psyche2011 Favorites: "Warner worked her magic again with this new series."
4.11 average{9 ratings}Library Thingas of: June 8, 2013
4.50 // 3.0007-10-2011Maldivian Book Reviews{gr8} // good, loved quote choice
5.00 / top pick06-....-2011Night Owl Reviewsgood review, good detail
5.00 // 3.0008-28-2011Once Upon a Chapter--Lisa Jo {a20} {gr5} {s7} // great descriptions of Declan, Ed
4.10{19 ratings}Paperback SwapTradeback
3.80{3 ratings}Paperback SwapMass Market Paperback
5.0006-01-2013Regan's Romance Reviews--Regan {a3} {gr40} // great review
Article06-06-2013Regan's Romance Reviews Kaki Warner talks Trains!
4.0011-14-2012RomCom {dot} com{gr36} // no details, sounded too pat
Interview11-01-2012Romance At Random--Sue Grimshaw // interesting details
positive11-....-2012Romance Reviews Today--Jane Bowers // okay
4.50 Top Pick07-....-2011RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviews--Kathe Robin // no review, just synopsis
4.67 average{9 reviews}Shelfarias of: June 8, 2013
A-06-02-2012Smart Bitches, Trashy Books--Phyllis // no qualifiers
B+06-21-2012Smart Bitches, Trashy Books--Turophile // concise, her issues with book
A-07-22-2011Smexy Books--Mandi Schreiner {a23} {gr3} // excellent / great quotes
A+07-05-2011The Good, The Bad and The Unread--Sandy M {gr7} // well-written, lots of detail
A-08-14-2011The Good, The Bad and The Unread--Gen Turner // excellent
Article01-05-2012The Good, The Bad and The UnreadKaki Warner: Creating The Perfect Romance Hero
Excerpt07-05-2011The Good, The Bad and The UnreadHeartbreak Creek Prologue
Article07-05-2011The Good, The Bad and The UnreadKaki Warner: Heading West with Kaki Warner
5.0006-22-2011The Romance Dish--Janga {gr11} // excellent reasons / well-written
9.0 Top Pick--The Season For Romance--Camryn // [qv] two glaring errors, spoke in generalities
4.2511-14-2011Tracy's Place--Tracy {gr21} // very brief review
4.50 / innuendo12-18-2011Two Lips Reviews--Clare // okay, felt too general
4.8506-09-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   Kaki Warner gifted this autographed book to me for review purposes.   (Thank you, Kaki)
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Heartbreak Creek review link to table, just ask

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