I’ll Never Let You Go by Mary Burton

I’ll Never Let You Go by Mary Burton
Publisher: Zebra
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (367 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Poppy


He promised to kill her. One night four years ago, Leah Carson’s husband almost succeeded. Philip stabbed her twenty-three times before fleeing. The police are sure he’s dead. But fear won’t let Leah believe it.


It starts with little things. Missing keys. A flat tire. Mysterious flowers. All easily explained away if the pattern wasn’t so terrifyingly familiar. Leah has a new veterinary practice and a new life with no ties to her nightmare. But Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Alex Morgan suspects something. And when another woman’s body is found, stabbed twenty-three times, Leah knows her past has found her.


As Leah and Alex untangle the horrifying truth, he watches her, ready for the perfect moment. Until death—that was the vow they made. And a killer always keeps his word…

Far more suspense than romance, I’ll Never Let You Go had a heart-stopping plot.

The heroine, Leah, is incredibly strong. She (barely) got away from her abusive husband once and is determined to never be a victim again. She has a lot of deep-seated fears and a little bit of OCD behavior (like checking and re-checking her locks), but who could blame her. She manages to lead a pretty normal life despite it all. I really loved how she recognized her weaknesses but took steps to overcome them. Leah was a woman to be admired.

Alex is part of the internal affairs department at the police department and not well-loved by his fellow officers (except his family, who are all involved in law enforcement in some manner). Still, he has strong values and convictions and manages to not let it really affect him. And when he has to investigate Leah’s best friend, he uses Leah to get information, not realizing that eventually he’d find himself legitimately attracted to her. I got a kick out of Alex and his interactions with his family. He’s an awesome guy, but almost a little too perfect. I don’t think he honestly had any flaws. He was handsome, smart, honorable … but he was also likely exactly what Leah needed. Her former husband certainly had his share, so perhaps Alex in all his perfection was the only thing that would have worked for her.

The story is packed with twists and turns. While I wouldn’t say it was a non-stop, adrenaline pumping suspense, it certainly kept me thinking and wondering. All the hard evidence from the past points to Leah’s husband being dead, but everything happening now screams that he’s alive. I knew there had to be a twist somewhere, and there is, but you won’t find out until the very end!

The main reason I chose the rating I did here, though, was because the book is marketed as romantic suspense and it really isn’t. The romance is nearly nil. Calling the heat “spicy” is almost a misnomer—as there is one very briefly described (no sexy details) sex scene and honestly, the first three-quarters of the book, it’s really as if Leah and Alex are barely friends. Yes, there is a HEA for them, but it’s a pretty quick turn of events. Believable, I suppose, but I really missed seeing the relationship truly develop over the course of the entire book.

So, don’t go into this expecting romance like I did. You’ll likely be disappointed. Go into this for a mystery instead and then you’ll get the most enjoyment from the story. Mary Burton is a very good writer, with a clever mind and clear description. The next time I pick up a book of hers to read, though, I’ll know what to expect.

The Counterfeiter-Catching Cat by Alannah Rogers

The Counterfeiter-Catching Cat by Alannah Rogers
A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Short Story (84 pgs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

The leaves have turned and autumn has finally come to the small town of Ashbrook, New Hampshire. Beatrice Young, the sixty-two-year-old owner of the Cozy Cat Café, is busy slinging coffee for tourists. Yet when her ever-perceptive Maine Coon cat, Hamish, sniffs out a fake twenty-dollar bill, the hunt is on to find its maker. And then there’s the fact that Jordan Clark has disappeared – he was seen walking out of a bar towards the woods, never to be seen again.

With the help of the ever-grumpy sheriff, her black cat Lucky, and her ex-husband and best friend Matthew, Beatrice finds intriguing links between the two mysteries. Jordan has a complicated past, one that could draw out a dangerous killer and place him squarely in Beatrice’s path. In the end, it’s up to her feline companions to find the clues that will keep her safe, put the culprit behind bars, and restore order to Ashbrook once more.

The Counterfeiter-Catching Cat is the first book in the Beatrice Young cozy cat mystery series.

There’s nothing like a good whodunit and add a few cats into the mix and you’ve got yourself a fun read which exactly what this book was for me. As a mystery fan who sometimes wants to break from the dark and gritty tales I read, this story fit the bill.

I loved the setting of this story, small town New Hampshire with its cast of characters including main one, Beatrice Young who runs the Cozy Cat Café. She’s somewhat of an amateur sleuth and always accompanied by her two cats, Hamish and Lucky. And then there’s Beatrice’s ex, Matthew. I liked the way these two weren’t bitter enemies that you see in lots of stories, but buddies who accept that while they aren’t marriage material, they’re certainly always be there for one another.

The mystery in this first book in the series revolved around counterfeit money being found in various stores in town and then someone goes missing followed by the uncovering of a dead body. Beatrice and the cats, and of course, with the help of Matthew, are on the case. There’s humor, there’s sleuthing and I thought the way the mystery was solved was realistic.

Although this is part of a series, this book is a standalone one with all loose ends tied up. If like me, you like a short, lighthearted mystery once in a while then I think you’ll really enjoy this one too.

Let’s Ride by Rebecca Black

Let’s Ride by Rebecca Black
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (24 pages)
Other: F/F, Toys
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

“I would do just about anything to be on the back of that bike when she leaves this place.”

Trapped in a small town life, Mary-Beth always knew there was something better out there. Then Jo rides into town and walks straight into the diner where she works. Sexy, dominant, and self-assured, Jo is everything Mary-Beth wishes she could be. Their hot, intense meeting crashes through Mary-Beth’s small world and offers her the promise of a new start.

Will Mary-Beth leave everything behind and ride with Jo towards the chance of a new life?

Some people are perfectly content to spend their entire lives in a quiet, small town. Is Mary-Beth one of them?

This story included a lot of detailed descriptions. Many of them involved sex, of course, but I was almost equally intrigued by how the narrator took the time to look at the little things in Mary-Beth’s life that most people overlook. Spending so much time on how a room was arranged or what her daily routine was like at the diner made it easy to for me to imagine stepping into this character’s shoes.

It would have been nice to have much more information about Mary-Beth and Jo’s personalities. I never felt like I got to know either one of them well as an individual. Are they outgoing? Can they find the humor in everything in life? Do other people think they’re unusually kind and considerate? Knowing the answers to questions like these would have helped me figure out what these characters are like. This would have been especially helpful information to have once their whirlwind romance began.

The chemistry between Jo and Mary-Beth was nicely done. The scenes that included both of them together did give me a few clues about what their personalities were like which I really appreciated. They seemed to complement each other nicely, especially in the bedroom. I really liked seeing exactly how they got along, and I was glad that the author spent so much time showing this to the audience.

Let’s Ride is a good choice for anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to meet an exciting stranger on an ordinary day.

In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler

In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (278 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

There’s a new gang of criminals in town and it’s organized, ruthless, and, most importantly, a pack of wolf shifters. Eric Becker and his Dallas SWAT Team are determined to rid their streets of these lowlifes, but when his fellow cops collide with the criminals in a shoot-out, he finds himself face–to-face with the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen.

Incapable of shooting or arresting the alluring shifter who’s stolen his heart, Becker decides to hide her and leave the scene with the rest of his team. Now Jayna, his mystery woman, is left not only wondering why she was protected, but also what a street-savvy thief like her is going to do with a hot alpha wolf officer like him…

There’s a new meaning to the acronym, S.W.A.T. and it’s really cool. Special Wolf Alpha Team consists of good guys with paranormal talents that get the job done when regular humans can’t due to the high risk. Eric was lucky to be part of the S.W.A.T. team but not everyone is so fortunate to find a pack that protects your back. Enter Jayna, the heroine and an unlikely one at that. She doesn’t see herself as anything other than subservient to her alpha, but things are about to change and wow, does it get exciting!

The first chapter opens with an action scene that sets the tone for what comes later. Eric, who goes by the book, temporarily throws the rules away for one insane moment in time and starts a domino effect. What Eric faces later on in the book are the two most challenging and critical events of his life, and he has to succeed or someone, okay, quite a few someones, are going to die. How can a reader not get hooked with that kind of drama?

The action scenes are gritty, the suspense is knife sharp and the romance sizzles. Ms. Tyler weaves intrigue with lust, suspense with laughter and shocks with revelations. In the Company of Wolves is a busy book with lots of layers for readers to explore.

However, the author actually starts off with how Jayna’s turn came to pass in the prologue. It’s scary because she was just a kid when it happened and the violence was shocking. It’s not until the chaos of the first chapter that I found out what had happened to Jayna and I was horrified. How could she have gone from the frying pan to the fire? It’s through Eric’s determination and dogged perseverance that I found out. Eric is a man of action but even he, with all his wolfie talents, might not be enough to save the day. The ‘how’ of it is another reason why I found this book hard to put down.

When Eric and Jayne follow their mating instincts, it’s really hot stuff. Those scenes are well-written, well placed and every one of them is worth reading.

Secondary characters are key. The ones in Jayna’s group provide motivation, heart and conflict. The villains are decidedly creepy, violent and effective bad guys. Even someone who used to be good was actually bad and that made me sad. It was Jayna’s remembrances of him earlier that made it so hard to reconcile the past with the reality of the present. My favorite secondary character was Cooper. Ms. Tyler put my emotions through the wringer when she had him on stage. I think what got me the most was how she described his smile.

For romantic suspense readers, this novel has enough chases, fights, bullets, blood, drama, action, trepidation and heart stopping moments to cause an adrenaline rush. It’s riveting!

As for the happy ever after, it’s perfect because it comes with a couple of surprises. That last couple of sentences were so romantic they left me sighing. It was all worth it. In the Company of Wolves definitely gets a thumbs up from me. This is an awesome book and an easy one to recommend to other readers. It’s a standalone so a new reader can jump right in and feel welcomed. Certainly, it’s one not to miss.

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (262 pgs)
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Poppy

Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist—but when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage the same day a doctor delivers devastating news, she realizes her rose-colored glasses have actually been blinding her.

With nothing left to lose, she abandons her life in Chicago for the clear waters and bright beaches of the Caribbean for what might be her last hurrah. Despite her new sunny locale, her plans go awry when she finds that she can’t quite outrun the past or bring herself to face an unknowable future. Every day of tropical bliss may be an invitation to disaster, but with her twin brother on her trail and a new relationship on the horizon, Libby is determined to forget about fate. Will she risk it all to live—and love—a little longer?

From critically acclaimed author Camille Pagán comes a hilarious and hopeful story about a woman choosing between a “perfect” life and actually living.

Alternately exceptionally deep and heart-rending and absolutely hysterical, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences was nothing like I expected and completely enjoyable.

From the first page, I was both chuckling at Libby’s attitude and heart-broken at the way her life was crumbling around her. She has the kind of snarky, internal (and sometimes external) humor that I absolutely enjoy. Despite her world falling apart, she moves forward and makes choices and does what needs doing. Sometimes I questioned her choices, but not having walked in her shoes, how would I know what the “right” way to behave would be.

The author has a descriptive but breezy style that’s so easy to read. While this isn’t my typical genre, I’m glad I grabbed it. It was both edifying and uplifting and so very interesting. Parts were a little draggy, but mostly I zipped right through the book. From Chicago to the tropics, I was right there with our heroine as she went from giving up and deciding to die, to learning how to live and love again. It was an incredible journey that sometimes left me breathless and ultimately left me moved. I’m glad I decided to pick it up and recommend it to any reader who enjoys a book both meaningful and completely entertaining.

The Sea Wife by Naomi Clark

The Sea Wife by Naomi Clark
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (35 pages)
Other: F/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Charley and Nessa are from two different worlds. Nessa is a selkie and Charley is all too human. When selkies and humans fall in love, tragedy can follow. For Charley and Nessa, that never seems to matter when they’re together. But when Nessa’s seal skin is stolen, the lovers uncover all the reasons humans and selkies should stay in their separate worlds.

The ocean is calling. Can you hear it?

One of the things I liked the most about Nessa was discovering the differences between how her mind worked and how the mind of the average human usually functions. While she was every bit as intelligent and likeable as her human companion, there were definitely a few things that they perceived in completely different ways because of where they were raised and what they were used to seeing in life. Acknowledging these things was a smart decision as I would have been pretty surprised by a selkie who understood absolutely everything about our society.

There were a few things about how selkie society works in this universe that I never figured out. The narrator’s explanation of it wasn’t as clear as I would have liked it to be. This was especially true later on when some new information seemed to contradict what had been told to the audience earlier. I was never quite sure if this was really a contradiction, though, because of how fuzzy it was to begin with.

The sex scenes were well done. Not only did Charley and Nessa have great chemistry, the background information that was shared about how they met and how long they’ve been together made their time together feel even more special to me. There’s definitely something to be said for stealing erotic moments with someone you really love, especially when a couple is facing as many obstacles to staying together as these two are.

I’d recommend The Sea Wife to anyone who loves selkie stories.

The Good Cop by Dorien Grey

The Good Cop by Dorien Grey
A Dick Hardesty Mystery, #5
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Historical
Length: Full Length (151 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

All Tom Brady wanted was to be a good cop; to keep a low profile and prove to a notoriously homophobic police department undergoing its own internal upheavals that gays deserved the right to be among them. But when he and old friend Dick Hardesty go out for a quiet evening, an incident leads to Tom shooting two thugs attacking patrons of a gay bar. Dick finds himself trying to protect Tom from being outed, while heading off a violent antipolice rebellion by the gay community.

The world is changing, but not as quickly as it should.

Dick has really grown as a person since the first instalment in this series. While it isn’t strictly necessary to read The Butcher’s Son, The Ninth Man, The Bar Watcher, and The Hired Man first, I’ve deeply enjoyed seeing how this character has changed over time. Just like living people, his personal growth hasn’t always been steady. Sometime it stalled or happened so slowly that I could barely notice any difference in him. When I compare the sometimes reckless Dick I knew four books ago to the much more thoughtful one I met this time, though, I’m amazed at how much he’s learned from his life so far. His maturation process has been a lot of fun to witness, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he changes in the future.

At times the subplots threatened to overwhelm the main plot due to how many of them there were and how long it took to introduce all of them. While I was interested in them, I would have liked to see more attention paid to figuring out what was going on with the fallout from the shootout that Tom was involved in early on in the plot. There was a lot of interesting information about those events that never had all of the time they needed to be explored because so many other things were happening simultaneously.

With that being said, Mr. Grey definitely knows how to keep me guessing. One of the things I appreciate the most about his writing style is how much time this author spends exploring the world his characters live in. Having such a clear understanding of what life was like for gay men in the 1980s only made me want to know what was going on in the moments before the crime Dorien investigates even more earnestly because of how steeply the cards were stacked against justice ever being served for the victim or the LGBT community as a whole at that point in history.

I’d recommend The Good Cop to anyone who is in the mood for a mystery set in the recent past.

Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva by Eliza Redgold

Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva by Eliza Redgold
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (294 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poppy

We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.

We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax.

Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.

Though historical romance is not my usual genre, I was very interested in reading this book. We know the legend of Lady Godiva, now I got to meet the woman and see the author’s interpretation of the story behind her ride. I’m glad I did.

First off, be warned that the author’s writing style might not resonate for everyone. She uses fragments, and some choppy sentences, but I didn’t find it intrusive. I zipped through the pages, interested in the world she built. I confess that I’m not well-versed in many of the historical references or mores of the times, so can’t comment on whether they are correct, but I completely enjoyed seeing the way life was then.

Godiva is strong and loving. She comes from a family who adores her and is destroyed when her parents are killed. Yes, she’s young and a bit naïve at times, but she does what she needs to do in order to care for her people. She’s a ruler and a woman to be admired.

We readers aren’t sure whether to root for her relationship with Leofric, whom she marries from necessity, especially when we know he is the one who will eventually cause her to shame herself and ride naked through the town. Is he a good man or an evil one? Should she have married her childhood friend, Edmund, instead?

I admired the author’s story telling prowess and imagination, along with the little historical tidbits she sprinkled in here and there; the day-to-day routines, the food, the herbs. The secondary characters, too, were well drawn, which isn’t always easy to do in a book written in first person.

While, at its heart this is a romance, it’s not a typical one, and those going in expecting that might be disappointed. It’s a dramatic retelling of a historical event that includes romance, but also so much more. I enjoyed this book, and am glad I had the chance to read it.

Men For Hire by Tina Donahue, Michelle Roth, Bella Settarra and Jennifer Denys

Men For Hire by Tina Donahue, Michelle Roth, Bella Settarra and Jennifer Denys
Publisher: Luminosity Publishing LLP
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (120 pgs)
Other: M/F, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

An anthology of four delicious, erotic stories, each beautifully crafted for your enjoyment…
Got Muscle? by Tina Donahue (M/F)

It’s so nice to have a hunk around the house…

As a recent transplant from New York, Bree’s certain her company transferred her to the London office because she wasn’t model-thin like the American staff. To rectify that, she’s bought a home gym. Now all she needs is someone to put the bloody thing together so she can sweat herself into a micro mini.

David has muscle to spare. Tall, dark, and sinfully handsome, he’s doing odd jobs until he gets his start-up off the ground. As far as David’s concerned, Bree’s lush curves don’t need improving, just a man who can appreciate them. He’ll definitely give her all the exercise she needs.

Ménage at Mealtime by Bella Settarra (M/F/M)

Naomi Powell nervously prepares for a dinner party where she hopes to secure a lucrative deal with a new publisher. Her ex, Richard, is also attending with his new girlfriend, Naomi’s best friend, Paula.

When Naomi hears a bird stuck in her chimney she urgently calls ‘Men for Hire’ for help. Two gorgeous guys, Aaron and James, come to her rescue. Not only do they solve her chimney problem, they woo her guests and give Naomi the time of her life—ménage-style!

However, when Richard announces that he wants Naomi back, will she follow convention or follow her heart?

Calculated Risk by Michelle Roth (M/F)

Stella Whitman has inherited her mother’s country home. When she finds it in utter disrepair, her cousin suggests that she call Men for Hire in search of a handyman. When he arrives, she’s somewhat shocked to find that his deep brown eyes and rugged good looks are giving her some very inappropriate thoughts.

Despite his instant attraction to Stella, Ian Starling has convinced himself that they need to keep things strictly professional. He’s been burnt before and has vowed never again. It becomes increasingly more difficult as he gets to know her, though. Then one rainy night changes everything…
Marital Duties by Jennifer Denys (M/F)

Delighted her ‘Men for Hire’ business was doing so well, Jennifer wasn’t expecting several of her clients to fall in love with her employees. At least they were getting sex. She was married and didn’t even get that most basic of husbandly tasks.

An idea came to her, and she amusingly completed an employee request form, asking her husband to do his marital duties.

Rob was stunned when he received the form mistakenly sent out by Jennifer’s assistant. Well, if his lovely wife wanted him to perform his duties, he would undertake them. Only, it wouldn’t be what she was asking for…

What if you found the love of your life in a phone call? Each of the authors in this anthology brings us a story of just that. These women are in need of some muscle and help around the house. What they get is not only the help but a happy ever after. Three of the stories show us how the couples come together while the last story gives readers a look at the owner of the company and her adventure. What a great business Jennifer has come up with and the added benefits make it all the more better.

Got Muscle? By Tina Donahue is a sweet story about finding love. Having been transferred to London, Bree has no idea who to call when she needs a man’s strength. When she calls for help and David arrives she is surprised at the instant connection. Knowing that she is a large girl Bree never thought that a man like David would ever look past that and see what she truly was inside. I loved David and seeing their relationship take shape made for a wonderful read. When Bree opens up and lets go of her insecurities, the two burn up the pages.

Ménage at Mealtime by Bella Settarra is a great story. I enjoyed watching the two men find a way into Naomi’s heart. With James and Aaron’s help, she begins to see how beautiful she truly is. Not only did the main characters grab my attention but I enjoyed the secondary characters as well. Love is strong and emotions run high in this story. I loved seeing Naomi blossom and find out what she truly wants and deserves.

Calculated Risk by Michelle Roth gives us the story of Stella and Ian. The two are great together. Their attraction is there right from the start and grows into something much deeper. Ian is a good man and tries to do things by the book but his attraction to Stella is too strong. Not only is she a beautiful woman but she is smart and friendly. It was nice to see the two find their way to a happy ending. Life brings Stella and Ian together but it is up to them to fight for it.

Marital Duties by Jennifer Denys is Jennifer’s story. She and Rob are happily married but it seems that lately they have been too busy and hard at work to do anything but fall asleep once they finish their days. She longs for the good old days when they were carefree and spontaneous. When Jennifer’s assistant emails Rob a contract that Jennifer left on her desk the fun begins. Their story is a sweet story. I enjoyed seeing the two reconnect and enjoy themselves.

I enjoyed each of the stories in this anthology. They are fast paced and hot reads. Emotions and sexual tension run rampant in these tales keeping you interested all the way through. Can you imagine making that phone call and finding love on the other end? This storyline was a wonderful concept and I would not mind coming back for more.

A Mountain Man’s Redemption by Christi Corbett

A Mountain Man’s Redemption by Christi Corbett
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (129 Pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Eighteen years ago, Philip Grant—overcome with regret for what he couldn’t foresee and memories of what he couldn’t prevent—abandoned all to live the solitary life of a fur trapper. Years spent roaming ridgelines and riverbanks in Montana Territory left his body weary and his confidence weak, so he decides to turn in his last bundle of furs and await the inevitable in a cabin. Alone.

Then a body-shaped lump wrapped in a quilt changes everything.

Philip discovers a battered woman and her infant son, on the run from a ruthless abuser with a penchant for whiskey. Seventy miles of snow-covered mountain peaks and windswept flatlands stand between them and safety—the woman’s aunt’s house.

Can Philip trust in his newfound faith to lead the way?

A fur-trapper who lives on his own in the Montana wilderness during the winter of 1886 is best served when he has only himself to worry about for survival, but when Philip Grant comes across an unexpected duo in need of help, he must decide whether to put his own life on the line to save them, or walk away.

Philip has had a good haul for a fur-trapper this season, but he soon finds himself with only ten days left to get his furs to the nearest fort, more than eighty miles away. It will be a difficult journey, which must be made quickly. But before long, he finds himself challenged with more than just time and distance. The reader will learn that Philip has his own demons in life to battle, but none more urgent that Hannah whom he discovers battered and beaten and clutching a baby in the middle of a harsh winter. Slowly and out of necessity, Hannah begins to explain the circumstances that have driven her, literally, out into the snow without proper gear for herself or her baby. With Philip’s continued prompting, the young mother confides in the fur-trapper, telling a heartbreaking story of abuse by her husband.

Wife abuse is not your average storyline in a historic novel, but maybe we should see it more often. The story is built upon a strong faith, and is historically accurate. It shows us that what we believe to be a modern problem is not at all. The reader gets a vastly different perspective in this well-written story.

This is a quick read, which is what brings me to my only criticism of the story. In the story’s beginning, Philip discovers a quilt in the snow-covered woods, and although we already know he is behind schedule and has an urgent need to get to Fort Matiley before it closes, which involves crossing “the most rugged mountain peaks in Montana,” he moves far too slowly. He spends too much time deciding whether to find out what’s inside the mysterious quilt. There were a few other points in the story where I felt things needed to move more quickly, given the urgency, too. With that said, this story was nearly flawless in its delivery.

If you’re looking for historical fiction, or a story with a 1880s flare, and the theme of a battered woman won’t deter you, then this is a story worth your time.