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A sense of honor, no matter how tattered, can be an inconvenient nemesis …
Notorious and exiled, Ross Braden needs to keep a low profile. The last thing he wants when he leaves the stodgy halls of Boston for the wilds of untamed Colorado is to drag along a spoiled aristocratic lady.
A strange country with no friends or fortune …
Lady Arianne Brooke is desperate to escape the past and terrified of the future. Forced to hinge her life on an enigmatic and handsome stranger, she trades her soul for the chance to escape a danger that haunts her every waking moment.
From London to Boston to the American West, a wild outcast and a spirited English runaway find themselves not only battling the perils of their journey but each other as well.
Somewhere in the darkness a dog howled, a lonely distant sound. For an instant the moment and setting might have been entirely different in his mind; majestic mountains rising in the distance, cool crisp air, soaring midnight skies, the ghostly shadows of wild horses grazing in vast pastures...
Ross Braden quickly shook himself, staring out into the darkened but distinctly sculpted and trimmed silhouettes of his mother’s Rose garden as he reminded himself of the truth.
There were no mountains, no columbines scenting the night air, no stars scattered until the imagination could handle no more.
This was civilization. This was elegant houses and cobbled streets and determined gaiety in the face of probable war.
No, not Colorado in all her captivating, fierce beauty. Not by a long shot.
“I thought I’d find you hiding here,” a calm voice said from behind his back.
Ross did not even turn around. He had only too easily recognized the telltale tread approaching; the laborious left step, followed by the quick healthy right one. He might have known that Robert would come for him.
“Hardly hiding. I needed a breath of fresh air,” he said coolly into the black night air.
“And you are hating every minute of the party,” his companion rejoined from behind him, continuing his slow advance, “so you keep ducking out here.”
“Every last excruciating minute,” he confirmed, and then lifted his drink to his mouth. The liquor tore a welcome fiery path down his throat. Leaning one shoulder against an ornate pillar, he studied the garden with heavy-lidded eyes, blocking out the sound of music and laughter that drifted into the warm air behind him. The vague throb of a headache lurked behind his temples. “How do you stand this, Robert?”
His older brother edged into view, taking up a place against the balustrade, gripping the support while he leaned his cane aside. Even his carefully tailored evening clothes could not hide the ugly brace that bulged from knee to ankle. “I assume you mean the dinner party?”
“Not just that. The dinner party, the constant stream of callers at the door, the bevy of servants underfoot every minute...all of it. The whole package. I want to know how you endure the lack of solitude, of any sort of privacy.”
“It was your life once, too.”
“The life I left behind,” Ross said almost savagely. “Give me a cold night on a wild mountain, the depth and smell of an ancient pine forest, or even the clamor of a tiny, dirty mining town. Anything but this...this facade of gaiety while everybody verbally stabs each other in the back and genteelly robs their neighbor’s pockets.”
Eventually, Robert said quietly, “That’s not an entirely fair assessment and I’m afraid I haven’t your aversion to society. These people here tonight are my friends. I find these gatherings to be...pleasant.”
“Pleasantly helpful to your aspirations to political office, you mean.” Ross found it impossible to keep the edge of cynicism out of his voice.
Robert said agreeably, “Perhaps. I can’t see that arguing the point will change either of our minds. In any case, you are being missed inside.”
Ross turned and lifted a brow. “Missed? If you are referring to the Whitfield girl, she’s part of the reason I slunk out here like a beaten Indian dog. She’s quite relentless. I might even say brazen. You would think my lack of prospects would put her off.”
With a short laugh, Robert said, “No indeed. Her father has money enough for both of you.” In the moonlight, his thin features were washed to bone and angle.
“My black reputation then.” Ross muttered the words darkly. “That should scare her away.”
Wayward Sun opens with a runaway English bride fleeing her new husband on her wedding night. Lady Arianne is heading to America to find her brother William out west, and she needs to enlist the help of his partner Ross Braden to get there. She is a woman alone, forbidden to return to England and ruined in society; she is looking for a new start in Colorado.
Ross hates visiting the polite society of Boston and he hates the pressure his parents place on him; he’s more at home on his Colorado ranch, out riding the range. His elder brother Robert has political aspirations and wants Ross to help him run the Braden empire and wade into the Civil War, but Ross won’t force himself into the mold his family wants for him. When Arianne approaches him with her plan to join him on the trail home, he balks and then relents.
Arianne and Ross immediately and gloriously clash, their opposing views on life and pretty much everything else, shooting sparks along the miles of trail. He thinks she's a spoiled, pampered princess; she thinks he's a cold, unfeeling shell of a man. Through fire and flood, wind and rain, braving the elements, they travel, the attraction between them growing with every mile. Ross’ saucy innuendos and wicked smiles draw the sheltered Arianne out of herself and into his arms. Their happiness is marred, however, when the secret that she’s been keeping comes back to haunt them.
I thoroughly enjoyed Wayward Sun; Katherine Smith pens a sure-fire winner in this one. With dead-on descriptive scenery, well-written imagery, endearing characters and a truly demented bad guy, Wayward Sun is sure to please.
Reviewed by: Michelle 4 Angels
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 294
Paper Weight (lb): 12.4
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