Friday, October 9, 2015

Mary Connealy's "Fire and Ice"

Cover ArtIn the final Wild at Heart novel, about three sisters who dressed as men and fought in the Civil War, Bailey Wilde finally meets her match. Granted, she has Gage Coulter over a barrel: he bought the lush grazing land in a box canyon, but he didn't think to buy the land in front of the only opening, where Bailey strategically built her cabin. Gage won't stoop to break the law, but he'll do just about anything else to wrestle a way in, even if it means blowing up a mountain. But when someone sets a trap for Gage, he and Bailey have to work together to figure out who's after him, and maybe find a solution to their land war--and their stubborn hearts--in the process.

Of the three sisters, Bailey intrigued me most, mostly since she is the least transparent of the three. I know she was changed by the Civil War (as they all were), but she was always so tight-lipped about her experiences. And now I know why. Given that this is a romantic comedy, the story can't get too heavy and bogged down by war reminiscences, but there is enough about Bailey's place in the fighting--the terror, the bloodlust, the blind obedience--that even in those brief passages, it's easy to see how war changes a person. To the point where, by the time it was over, it was hard to say who was in the right and who was in the wrong.

I enjoyed the way Bailey and Gage play off each other - between their stubbornness, hot temper, and abilities at evasion, they are similar enough to know just how and where to push to get a reaction, yet their ability to read each other and recognize their wounds forges a bond that had been impossible with anyone else, even Bailey's sisters. When they actually work together, they make an intimidating pair.

The story definitely went in a direction I was not expecting, or at least for reasons I would never have anticipated (hah. Who'd've thought that's what could scare Gage into action?), which in itself was amusing. As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed Connealy's romantic comedy with cowboys, and look forward to whatever she has coming next!

Thank you Bethany House for providing a free book to review; I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.

Wild at Heart
1. Tried & True
2. Now & Forever
3. Fire & Ice

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