Friday, August 05, 2005

Keishon's TBR Challenge for July

I came upon Keishon's blog a while back and spotted her TBR challenge. This challenge was to read something from your TBR pile every month. She selects a specific sub-genre (regency, contemporary, etc.) for each month. Since I have blogged about giant Mt. TBR previously, you know I have quite a selection to pick from. July's challenge was for a historical, but I only managed to knock off one historical from Mt. TBR read on 7/18/2005. It was an American historical and an excellent one:

Title and Author: Joe's Wife by Cheryl St. John
Sub-genre: American Historical set in Colorado in 1865
Copyright Year: 1999

Meg Telford is a young widow whose husband Joe died in the war leaving her to run their small ranch near Aspen Grove with only a couple of old cowboys. Her in-laws want her to sell it and move back into town to live with them. But Meg values her independence and does not want to let go of Joe's ranch. Tye Hatcher is a war veteran who returns after the war to Aspen Grove, the home of his birth. Tye grew up a bastard son of a prostitute who is now dead in order to fulfill his dream of earning enough money to start his own packing plant. The town has always treated him poorly and when he returns to town after the war they still treat him like dirt and he has a difficult time finding work of any kind. This was the only part of the story that just did not work for me. Why would anyone return to a place where he is treated like a pariah? He could have gone anywhere after the war and no one would have known his background, but instead he comes back for more punishment. Not realistic to me.

Meg has a mortgage payment due and has been selling off anything of value in order to hang onto the ranch. But her options are running out. Since she can't afford to pay any more ranch hands, she decides she needs a husband to work hard and help get the ranch financially stable. But since it's after the war, men of marriageable age are scarce. She decides to propose marriage to Tye. He will help her with the ranch in exchange she will help him with his dream of a packing plant if they make enough money. Tye feels he cannot refuse such an opportunity to realize his dream. They marry and cause quite a scandal in town.

The love that slowly develops between them is beautifully written and very emotional. Tye is a wonderful, wounded and courageous man. Although he has thoughts that he is not good enough for Meg, he shows his worth to Meg and the entire town. St. John is spare in her writing but the emotion she conveys is very powerful. Tye promises the town prostitute on her death bed to raise her daughter. So five-year old Eve comes to live with Tye and Meg. Tye is not sure who the father is but he suspects. Tye has always felt excluded and alone. When Meg confronts him about the paternity of Eve in a climatic scene near the end of the book, I went straight for my Kleenex box. Meg is also a wonderful, compassionate character. She is the only one in town who always treated Tye with respect. Slowly she comes to stop thinking of herself as Joe's wife and starts thinking of herself as Tye's wife.

I really enjoy a three hanky read occasionally and this book filled the bill. I would have graded it slightly lower due to the problem I mentioned above but those hankies raised my grade a little. Definitely a keeper. This is the first time I have read St. John and I'm looking for more recommendations for her. I recently bought Prairie Wife and I'll look for Secondhand Wife on my next book store shopping trip.

My Grade: A-


Avid Reader said...

Thanks for posting the review! I'll have to check out Cheryl St. John. Thanks for another tip to add to my ever-growing pile :-)

Also, I thought Harvard's Education to be one of the best in the series, another for me was The Admiral's Bride, both by Suz Brockmann. Take Care


Kristie said...

I just found your blog through Maili's.
Was this not a wonderful book! I read it a few years ago. Then I read it again some time after that, and again sometime after that.
Secondhand Wife is another very good book by St. John

ReneeW said...

Kristie - I went to the Fred Meyer specifically looking for Secondhand Wife and Passion. They had Passion but not SW since they already had this month's Harl. Historical's. They only stay on the shelf a month so if you miss a good one you're out of luck. I guess I'll have to order it online.

Kristie (J) said...

I know that is the problem with Harlequin isn't it? Too short a shelf life. I don't mind it so much with the other lines but I hate it with their historicals. I missed one last month too that I meant to get

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