|Victoria Dark: Loving Elizabeth|
Splendor (paperback), ISBN 0821763202
Elizabeth McKay rescues convicted murderer Dalton McClure from a snowstorm and nurses him back to health. He leaves after a brief, mutually agreeable stay, promising to return for her after he clears his name. Neither Dalton nor Elizabeth gave any thought to the possible fruit of their coupling -- Elizabeth must face the consequences of her sin alone.
Receiving word Dalton has been killed and believing it to be true, Elizabeth determines to do whatever is necessary to save her child from the pain and shame of being ostracized by the community. She will do anything, even if it means she has to lie, pretend she is a widow, and accept the proposal of a farmer in Oregon who wants a mail order bride. But Dalton isn't dead. He's living under an assumed name, employed as a sheriff, and waiting for her when she arrives, travel weary and uncertain, in Oregon.
While not nearly as amusing as Dark's previous book, Marrying Mattie, I found Loving Elizabeth a much more satisfying read. (All right, I'll admit I love books set in Oregon). The characters' emotions and their responses to each other and the happenings in their lives possess a verisimilitude that lends credence to the entire tale. As I read, I could easily believe that this had actually happened in the "good old days," the days when communities pulled together in a time of common need, and people could actually begin anew.
Warm and appealing, Loving Elizabeth is, despite some minor historical inaccuracies, one of the better historical novels I've read this year -- and comes from an author whose work I truly appreciate.
Oregon-based Patricia White is the Sapphire Award-winning author of A Wizard Scorned. Her current book, the western The Legend of Lejube Rogue, is available from New Concepts Publishing.
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