In the second of her Westward Winds trilogy, Amanda Cabot writes about Charlotte, the eldest and most fragile of three sisters. A widow with a baby boy, Charlotte must find work to support herself, so she turns to her one marketable talent - dressmaking - which puts her in contact with a number of Cheyenne's elite, including the handsome and politically-aspiring Barrett Landry. Unfortunately, a villain with whom her dead husband had tangled is still looking for Charlotte to exact revenge.
Charlotte seems almost like a different person from the character in Summer of Promise, in which she was a little more frivolous, flightier, and markedly more social (when not done in by anxiety). In this novel she is quite sedate, partly I'm sure from trying to keep from drawing attention to herself and attracting the Baron, and partly from the stress of running a business and mothering a blind baby. She seems more like a scared version of her practical sister Abigail than the animated young wife she was at Fort Laramie. I would have liked her to retain that liveliness and propensity towards ups-and-downs, since it would have felt more like the same character.
Like in Summer of Promise, Cabot does an excellent job of developing a solid, healthy relationship between the main characters. By juxtaposing an example of an unhealthy relationship where they merely go through the motions - Barrett and Miriam - next to a solid relationship where friendship and genuine love (not just a calculated show) are developed over time - Barrett and Charlotte - the healthy relationship stands out all the more. In more minor roles are the romances between Miriam and Richard and between Gwen and Warren, which again underscore what builds a healthy relationship and what can doom one. (Even looking past the psycho murderer aspect, which is uncommon in the general way of things, Gwen and Warren's relationship is developed in an unhealthy way).
I like the length of the novel, which allows several plot lines to be developed properly without being rushed, especially Barrett's struggles to get out of the shadow of his older brothers' success, which results in becoming a cattle baron, running for political office, and eventually finding what he truly loves to do. The story felt a little more oppressive than I would have preferred, probably because both the main characters are under a lot of stress and have a hard time feeling free to be themselves, so I did not enjoy it as much as the first book in the series, but it was still an enjoyable read. 4 out of 5 stars
1. Summer of Promise
2. Waiting for Spring
3. With Autumn's Return