The train to Garber, Texas, is supposed to bring life’s next victory to Nicholas Lovelace. Instead, it gets held up by robbers who are thwarted by the last person Nick ever expected–Anne Tillerton from back home in Prairie Lea.
Anne’s been hiding away as a buffalo hunter. She’s only in Garber to find their runaway cook, but the woman flees–leaving Anne with her infant son. With Nick the only person Anne knows in Garber, the two form an unlikely team as they try to figure out what to do with the child.
But being in town means acting and dressing for polite society–and it’s not going well for Anne. Meanwhile, Nick’s work is bringing new pressures, and being seen with a rough-around-the-edges woman isn’t helping his reputation. Caught between their own dreams, a deepening relationship, and others’ expectations, can the pair find their way to love?
A dandy with both naive and arrogant inclinations, an anti-conformist heroine with impenetrable emotional barriers. A more unlikely romantic pairing would be hard to find, but Regina Jennings opted to test the old adage to see if opposites really do attract. Initially there is certainly a role reversal when Anne rescues Nick from train robbers and her brusque nature. Nick is not above preening and fawning over the social elite to further his business interests, but he still manages to come across as masculine and competent in the rugged Texas setting.
The chemistry between these two characters wasn’t wholly believable for me. They are thrown in to each other’s lives by circumstance and their incongruent personalities naturally result in sparks, not necessarily amorous in nature. The battle of wills that ensues is moulded in to a romantic storyline that takes time to find its footing but picks up pace midstream.
What I appreciated the most about this novel was delving in to Anne’s abusive past and witnessing her transformation and restoration as the story progressed. Her ruthless deceased husband squashed all her joy with his words and fists until all that was left was the shell of a woman too traumatized to allow herself to feel. The catalyst for her healing is when she is unexpectedly bequeathed custody of a precious baby who begins to chisel away at her enclosed heart. For me, this was the love story of the novel: a traumatized woman renewed by the innocence and unconditional love of a child.
Caught in the Middle will appeal to lovers of western romances seeking a story with a resounding message and heart.
**Disclosure: Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group**