Saturday, 14 June 2014

A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer

Book cover A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer
Earlier this year I read the first two books in the Archer brothers series, Short Straw Bride and Stealing the Preacher, and I loved them both! There is only one unmarried Archer brother remaining, the baby of the family, Neill Archer, so I was both pleased to see that his story was available, and sad that it was only a novella length story.

Neill is sick of being seen as a boy by his brothers – he’s 28 years old now and he’s planning on setting up a place of his own, in partnership with his friend Josiah.  While Josiah stays at home and works there Neill is travelling from place to place getting what work he can. He arrives in a new town and makes it known that he’s looking for work. He finds a note asking him to replace the roof for Mrs Danvers, a widow. He envisions a poor, defenceless old lady, and when he sees the rickety shack she’s living in, he is indignant on her behalf.

However Clara Danvers is not what he’d imagined. She’s a mere 20 years old, heavily pregnant, extremely unfriendly and the most exotic beauty Neill has ever set eyes on.  The attraction between them is mutual, but Clara has been hurt before so she’s not interested in finding herself a man.

This man’s eyes were warm and honest. Kind. And they had lovely green flecks that added a sparkle to the brown depths.
Clara took a step back. No need to look that close. He was a workman, nothing else.

The only thing Clara is focused on is preventing her father in law from stealing her baby when it’s born. For this she needs to keep her guard up at all times for a physical attack or kidnap, and she also needs to make sure she doesn’t set a foot wrong, as her father in law is seen as a pillar of the community. So she needs her shack to be in good condition. She’s done what she could to maintain it, but she has limited materials and tools and she physically can’t manage to fix the roof. Clara is of Comanche blood, so a lot of the townsfolk are wary of her, she has no family, now no husband, and no friends, aside from the anonymous benefactor who sent Neill to her.

Reluctantly Clara accepts Neill’s help, and despite herself she begins to warm to him, telling him the sad tale of how she ended up alone and the wife of a man who married her for really hurtful reasons.  She isn’t filled with self pity, though; Clara is just getting on with things, and focusing on protecting her baby

Clara Danvers was no fragile flower. She was a coyote who’d learned to scrape and scavenge and protect what was hers.

Neill is desperate to protect Clara, both out of compassion to keep her and her baby together, and also because he’s decided he wants to marry her. Aside from the fact that he can see she is full of admirable qualities and beauty there is also something else drawing him to her:

No one had ever needed him before, not to this extent. The youngest of four brothers, he’d always been included yet never felt truly essential. Until today. Clara needed him.

Although I really enjoyed this story, I couldn’t help but feel that it was just too short. The relationship between them developed too quickly. In one respect, this made sense because there was a limit to how many days he could stretch out working on her house, and since she was heavily pregnant there was a timescale there too, but I think the story really could have benefited from being longer. The story only covers a short timescale but I would have liked more detail, for example, there is a 2 day journey which is described in just a few pages, when I would have liked to see their relationship building. I also felt the pacing was uneven; it starts out at a moderate speed then gets faster. In common with the other Archer books this book has Christian themes, but they are not explored in great depth.

We see the other Archer brothers too, but unfortunately only very briefly. I’d really recommend reading this book, both to find out what happens to Neill and because even though I felt it was too short, it’s still a really good story!




Book Cover A Match Made in Texas
You can buy this story on its own as a novella (but be warned, there is a sample at the end, meaning you get a gaaaaaaah! moment when you reach 58% and the story is over!), or as part of an anthology called A Match Made in Texas which also has stories from other authors.

4 comments:

  1. Don't you just hate that, I've had that before when a story is good I check to see what percentage I am on and then I am deceived with advertising and excerpts. Good review, I have this book but want to read stealing the Preacher first.

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    1. Yes, definitely read Stealing the Preacher first. I could tell the end of the book was nigh but I hoped it wasn't! It's worse when you're still on a low percentage and it ends unexpectedly, at least I could see it coming :)

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  2. Great review, Ceri! I have a few of Karen Witemeyer's books just waiting to be read. I have heard nothing but good things about them. Which do you recommend starting with?

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    1. Hi Kelli! I haven't read all of Karen Witemeyer's books but every one I've read I've really enjoyed. If you read ebooks one or other of them will quite often be reduced which is how I ended up getting them. If I was to recommend a starting point it would be 'Short Straw Bride', the first of the Archer Brothers books, but I think a lot of her others are entirely stand-alone, so you could start with any of those. If you read one, let me know what you think!

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