BEHIND HIS BLUE EYES – Kaki Warner
The Heroes of Heartbreak Creek , Bk. 1
Western Historical Romance
Colorado Territory, 1871
Audra Pearsall's father, Professor Percival Prendergast Pearsall, was an eminent historian, a founder of the Baltimore Society of Learned Historians, who earned a living through his research and writings…until his mind began to fade. As her father sunk deeper into dementia, Audra used his notes to continue publishing in order to keep receiving an income. But when her latest article wins a prize, she can no longer keep up the pretense that her father is away doing more research. She packs up everything and everyone—her father, their long-time retainers Winnie and Curtis Abraham, the blind dog Cleo, the horse and buggy—and they all move to Heartbreak, Colorado where her father had inherited a cabin and some land.
After reaching the end of the railroad line, she meets an attractive man who reluctantly—Ethan Hardesty is loath to care about women—helps them to get to Heartbreak. The little family meets a warm welcome in Heartbreak; her two colored companions as well. The people of Heartbreak Creek are open and tolerant and are eager to assist them in fixing up and furnishing the tiny cabin. However, as Audra makes friends, she begins to doubt Ethan's sincerity when she learns his employer, the railroad, wants a right-of-way through her property. She can't have her father wandering in the way of a train no matter the fee.
With three loved ones to care for—Winnie has been a mother to her, and Curtis now has watching over her father added to his other work—Audra has grown fiercely protective and independent. Ethan once cared deeply for someone, but a tragedy ended that and still gives him nightmares. With all this and the railroad right-of-way between them, they both try to ignore the obvious attraction. Audra and Ethan are likable and entertaining as well as sympathetic.
BEHIND HIS BLUE EYES is the first in a new trilogy. It begins where Ms. Warner's Runaway Brides series ended with the same location and many of the same characters. The ladies, especially those from the latter series, take Audra under their wings. But BEHIND HIS BLUE EYES is much more than a rocky romance. There is sabotage of work making way for the expansion of the railroad and suspicious deaths that may or may not be connected. A lot of history is included that touches on the relationships among the various groups involved in the railroad. In short, the varied characters and suspenseful and complex plot make for a rich read.
If you've read the Runaway Brides series, you'll be delighted to meet them again, though something is up with Prudence Lincoln and Thomas Redstone that has yet to be resolved. If you haven't read that series, I highly recommend it: HEARTBREAK CREEK, COLORADO DAWN, and BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY. The Heroes of Heartbreak Creek series promises to be just as riveting. Don't miss it.