CELINE – Kathleen Bittner Roth
When Hearts Dare Series
Louisiana, Western United States – 1853
Celine Kirkland is a new bride and pregnant when her mother-in-law dies. As she, her husband, and father-in-law leave the cemetery, a thunder storm breaks out, drenching them. Unfortunately, it also washes out the bridge, and the wagon they're riding in plunges into the river. Celine survives after hours trapped beneath the wagon, but her husband, his father, and her baby all die.
Taken in by a friend of her in-laws, Celine spends a year recovering at his plantation, and is made a part of the Andrews family. Justin, the owner, sees that she is treated well, and adores her. But when his son, Trevor, returns from England, Celine is immediately drawn to the handsome, dark-haired rake. Try as she might, his wicked smile is difficult to ignore.
Trevor is surprised by his attraction to his father's house guest. She is feisty and very beautiful, and oh so sensual, although she doesn't seem to realize that. When his cousin, Cameron arrives on the plantation from England, too, electricity sparks as the two vie for Celine's attention.
Celine decides that since her year of mourning is over, that she should move on. Her best friend has invited her to live with her and her family at their newly built hotel in San Francisco. Can Celine resist the cousins' attentions and get on with her life away from all she holds close? Will Trevor let her go?
CELINE is an interesting story mostly set in the pre-Civil War South. The plot is fairly predictable, but the characters are nicely drawn, and the story progresses well. There're plenty of excitement and surprises in the last quarter of this tale!