My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
Men are optional. That's the credo Emma Chandler's suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women's colony in Harper's Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight--and she knows just the one.
Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma's plea arrives, he bolts to Harper's Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she's not a girl any longer. She's a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn't deserve.
As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.
Once again I was captivated by the unique story that Karen Witemeyer wove with vibrant historical detail, humor, action, and sweet romance. I loved the background of how Malachi came to know Emma and her aunts as a youth. It created a special bond between him and Emma and their rapport as adults picked up right where it left off. He is unfailingly loyal and defends her with a fierce protectiveness. The setting of a western town with no men is fascinating, with a wide variety of characters who live and work in the community. I appreciated that Emma was not portrayed as a man-hater, even though she's witnessed abuse and dealt with some frustrating men. She is open to love and sees the good in all people, males included. Mal's reserved yet passionate nature was a perfect contrast to Emma's more open and positive personality, and as they worked together to protect the community and draw out the villain, their relationship deepens even though Mal doesn't think he deserves her. The person behind the attacks remains a mystery for much of the book, leading me to suspect pretty much anyone suspicious :) Emma and Mal had to do the same in order to catch the perpetrator, even though it was hard for Emma to believe any of the ladies taking refuge in their town could be a traitor. The story explored themes of independence, recovery from abuse, the value and worth of an individual, and finding purpose in following God's will.
(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
About the Author
Christy Award finalist and winner of the ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.