Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Don't Like Westerns. I Don't Like Romances. I Loved This Anyway.

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If you visit this blog regularly, you know I rarely read romance. And I never read Westerns. So, what gives? Why did I decide to step so far out of my literary comfort zone and give Kaki Warner's Pieces of Sky a try? I'm not sure. All I know is, I'm glad I did.

Warner's debut novel is the first in a trilogy about the Wilkins Family, a group of brothers caught in a vicious feud over the rights to RosaRoja ranch. Sancho Ramirez, a bloodthirsty bandero, has vowed to avenge his family and take back the land his father once dominated. The three Wilkins brothers, having already lost their parents and a younger brother to the fight, want only peace. Even if it means stringing Sancho up by his cojones to get it.

Into the midst of the battle steps prim and proper Englishwoman Jessica Thornton. She never intends to get mixed up with anything as uncouth as a cowboy, but when her stagecoach crashes, Brady Wilkins comes to her rescue. As she recovers at his ranch, Jessica comes to realize there may be more to the boorish cattle wrangler than meets the eye (not that what meets the eye doesn't have a certain rugged appeal). Harboring her own secrets, she's desperate to heal and get on her way. She can't put her new friends in danger when her past comes calling, but the longer she lingers, the more she wants to stay. Suddenly, the desert doesn't seem so desolate, the people not so improper, the cowboys not nearly as uncomely. Still, Brady's made it obvious he cares about only two things (well, three, but that's clearly reserved for the beautiful Elena): taking his revenge on Sancho Ramirez and cultivating his beloved RosaRoja. Jessica knows she'll never fit in in the wild American West - so why can't she make herself leave?

I know I'm making Pieces of Sky sound like a trashy bodice-ripper, but - like rangy Brady Wilkins himself - there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. First of all, the story's engrossing, the characters believable, and the setting really comes alive. Really. I'm a (very) reluctant desert dweller, and I still wanted to live at RosaRoja. Secondly, it's not just a western, and it's not just a romance - there's all kinds of stuff going on in the story. This makes it exciting, romantic, adventurous, funny, lighthearted and heartbreaking all at the same time. Speaking of romance, it's definitely sexy, but also sweet. Sure, the story's predictable, but there's enough conflict that Happily Ever After doesn't come too easily. The best part about the novel, though, is that it's only the beginning of what promises to be a lovely, sweeping saga about one of the most romantic periods in American history.

Just to reiterate:

I don't like westerns.

I don't like romances.

Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner is both. I loved it anyway.

(Readalikes: I rarely read in this genre, so I don't know what to compare it to. Lonesome Dove, maybe? The story I kept thinking of while reading it is Australia, the movie.)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language, crude humor/sexual innuendo, sexual content, violence

To the FTC, with love: I received this book for review from the author's publicist. Thanks!

7 comments:

  1. Wow, great review! I'm adding this to my buy list!

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  2. Is it maybe a bit Legends of the Fall? I loved that movie.

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  3. I don't like westerns either,but will give it a try.Good review.

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  4. And I see you even learned a little Spanish in the process. :-)

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  5. I'm not much for Westerns either but this book does sound good. When an author can pull you in like that, well... And what a beautiful cover! Thanks for the review.

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  6. Another "don't like western or romance" books you might want to try...These Is My Words by Nancy Turner. Took my breath away.

    I added Pieces of Sky to my TBR list a few weeks ago...sounds great.

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  7. Well, what do you know? I have read a few westerns. I've read (and enjoyed) 2 of the 3 books in Nancy Turner's series, I've read a least 1 Louis L'Amour (THE COMSTOCK LODE, maybe?) and LONESOME DOVE. Let's see ... LEGENDS OF THE FALL ... I think I may have seen the movie once upon a time ...

    Sam - un poquito :)

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