Wednesday, April 9, 2014

'Claiming Mariah' by Pam Hillman

Claiming Mariah
In light of her father's death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father's farm, the only home she's ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father's rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.With the ranch now under Slade's careful eye, he will unearth more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal and murder threatens more than the well-being of the ranch, endangering the lives of those who hold it dear. With days dwindling until the rest of the Donovan clan arrive to the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed alters their futures forever.
I felt like sitting back with a good, clean romance set in yesteryear and that's exactly what I got.

Without warning, a brusque young man sweeps into Mariah Malone's front yard and informs her that her childhood home never actually belonged to her family. Her father swindled his over some gold years ago, and it turns out that his father's name was the only one on the deed. He's decided to evict her. Yet although he wants Mariah gone so that he can start over, Slade Donovan isn't heartless enough to toss her out on the spot. He agrees to let her stay long enough to tie up loose ends and get a bit of money together before she and her grandmother are out in the cold.

There's an entertaining amount of friction from the start, making us wonder how the pair of them could possibly sort out their differences, let alone fall in love. The gradual attraction is convincingly written on both sides.

Both main characters are likeable and their points of view easy to understand. Mariah behaves with dignity and comes across as tender-hearted and sweet, although she has a few foibles. She gets cranky when Slade jumps to what may seem an automatic conclusion about her sister, Amanda, and decides not to be forthcoming. I understand that choosing to withhold information adds mystery and thickens the plot, but is it completely in character? She didn't get that mad at him when he announced that he was kicking her off her home and land. I think it just worked, because a little feminine inconsistency doesn't hurt a great story.

Slade is suitably swoonworthy. He's the typical handsome, rugged tough guy who we can't help loving for the empathy he feels, whether he chooses to or not. The town of Wisdom is an ideal nineteenth century backdrop for a good show-down between good guys and crooks. And I did appreciate that, even though this is a romance, we see that both Slade and Mariah are prepared to work very hard, as people did to stay alive.

Overall, it's a book to make you happy when you feel like a treat, and I'm sure I'll be reading it again someday, for that reason.

4 stars

 Claiming Mariah available from Amazon

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