Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Colorado Dawn by Kaki Warner


They married in haste and enjoyed a searing passion -- and then Angus Wallace returned to his regiment and to his duty as a soldier, leaving behind his new English wife, Maddie, in the care of his very indifferent Scottish family. In three years of marriage, he wrote to her twice and visited once -- and Maddie wonders if this is what the rest of her will look like.

When her parents die suddenly, Maddie is given a brief respite and returns home to England to settle their affairs. And out of the grief, she rediscovers her passion for photography, which leads to a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the frontier lands of America.

With the war over, Angus has come to America in search of his runaway bride and I search of answers to so many questions -- foremost of which is, why did she leave him?

Maddie cannot believe the audacity of her husband, why come after her after so many years of estrangement? When she discovers that Angus has inherited his brother's title, it makes her wonder if she is just another duty for Angus to fulfill.

I featured Kaki Warner's Colorado Dawn for my Sample Reading posts a while back and finally got the chance to read the book in its entirety -- and this is a book that does not disappoint.

Is it love or lust? I often ask this question when a couple in a romance novel have a whirlwind affair. I'm often suspicious of how quickly our heroes and heroines profess their undying love and devotion -- and, most times, that's how romance novels end. And the love is never tested. But that is not the case of Angus and Maddie in Kaki Warner's Colorado Dawn.

They met and got married quickly. All throughout the story, we get hints that they are very compatible in bed but, out of it? -- not so much. Never have I seen two people so out-of-sync with each other as these two -- and that leads to a lot of misunderstanding between them. The movement of our hero and heroine reminded me of Jimmy Liao's A Chance of Sunshine (adapted into a movie titled Turn Right, Turn Left): two people moving towards each other on parallel planes: always seeing each other, but their paths never seem to meet. It's always a case of wrong place, wrong time for Angus and Maddie -- and it is frustrating for them.

"What took you so long?" she accused. "You said it would only be a day and a night. Why didn't you come back?" With each word, her voice had risen and the shaking had grown worse.

...

"Why aren't you ever here when I need you?" She hit him again, apparently oblivious to the pain it must have brought to her injured hands. Tears were running down her face now, and her words were so garbled it was difficult for him to make them out. But the rage was unmistakable.
- p. 113

What is undeniable, though, is the intense connection that exists between the two. That, despite an almost-six-year separation, when they see each other again, chemistry does what it does and sparks fly. But there is a lot of work that Angus and Maddie need to do to repair their marriage and Kaki Warner sets their story against the raw and dangerous beauty of the landscapes of Colorado.

So it's not just lust. It takes our hero and heroine a journey of thousands of miles, in a place that isn't home to either of them to discover what love is -- and the sacrifices it entails. Heartbreak Creek is the perfect backdrop to all of these unfolding love stories. With such an evocative name and by knowing the residents of the town, even without knowing the history of the place or of its name, we can instantly envision that this was a place where hearts and souls came to escape.

I thought it was necessary for Angus and Maddie to make this trip. For Maddie, it was a journey of self discovery. At the beginning of the book, she seemed a bit lost and didn't know what she wanted. Five years in America has shaped her to become a woman capable of making her own decisions and of speaking her own mind. From a shy, reluctant English country lass, she became a famed photography and a true, equal partner to Angus.

Angus's life has always been defined by duty: either he obeys it or rebels against it. Why did he marry Maddie? Initially, it was because his parents forbade it -- and part of what draws you into this story is seeing how Angus's emotions develop and deepen as he gets to know his wife more. (Read the first paragraph of p. 185!)

Colorado Dawn also features the wonderful side story of Prudence and Thomas -- which contrasts quite well with Angus and Maddie's love story. Thomas and Pru admit that they love each other but, with such painful pasts, what they needed to figure out was how they could express that love without hurting each other.

She saw the laughter in his black eyes. And the love. She knew what he wanted from her. But whenever she thought about what that entailed, the coil of fear lodged in her chest tightened a little bit more.

...

His expression softened. "I see your fear, eho'nehevehohtse. It hides behind your eyes when you look at me, and in your hands when you allow yourself to touch me. But I am not your enemy, heme'oono. You will think on that while I am gone." Reaching out, he gently brushed his fingertips across her jaw. "Nemehotatse, Prudence Lincoln."

"What does that mean? I don't understand what you're saying."

"Yes, eho'nehevehohtse. You know."
- pp. 210-211

One of my favorite scenes in the story was when Angus/Lord Ashby visited Ed and Declan Brodie's house and Angus was introduced to the kids:
"...Children, this is Lord Ashby."

Clasping his hands once more behind his back, Ash gave a curt, military nod.

"Lord?" The girl's eyes widened. "You're named after God?"
- p. 162

This was a wonderful book with lots of laughter, heart and passion. Now I'm off to find copies of the other books in the series.

Colorado Dawn is the second book in Kaki Warner's Runaway Brides series. To find out more about Kaki Warner and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.

6 comments:

  1. Kaki writes such wonderful books. I can't wait to get Colorado Dawn

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