This review is going to be long and rage-filled. I can't believe a traditional publishing house allowed a book like this to be published; I am now going to use this book as Exhibit A during any debate between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Do not be fooled by those 3, 4, and 5 star reviews - either the author or the publisher must have paid for those positive reviews or she has a rabid fan-girl following who loves all her work. Remind me never to read this author's works again.
Summary: In this humorous historical romance, a cowboy must choose between family bonds that could restore his trust or a love that could heal his heart.
There is no humor in this book and there was a love story that was so twisted, you would think EL James wrote fan fiction about it. Everyone is TSTL on this planet or the other seven in our solar system. Let's meet the wastes of oxygen:
Rafe Kincaid: our hero...the main male character. He is the oldest of the Kincaid brothers and is a douche canoe of EPIC proportions. Just look at some of my updates where I quote this guy's feelings about women in general and the heroine...the main female character. He is beyond demanding that everyone (including brothers and Julia's family) obey his commands. He is common sense smart, but anything outside of ranching is beyond his brain's capacity. But it's okay because to win arguments, he just glares at that person or, in the case of Julia, kisses her without her permission. Dude is the alpha-hole type straight out of Harlequin Presents, dressed up as a cowboy. He demands Julia marry him within 36 hours of meeting her (the entire story takes maybe 4 days tops) so he could protect her and her family. He has plans on breaking her stubborn streak/spirit as soon as they are married and he will have her obeying him in no time, just like the cattle on his ranch. There is a lot of making out/heavy petting for an inspirational, and mostly it is Rafe forcing the kissing on Julia. The guy is toxic, but Julia is just as freaking ridiculous.
Julia Gilliland: really, how did she manage to be 19 years old as stupid as she is? She is the stereotypical red-hair, green-eyed spitfire of a heroine. She is OBSESSED with geology, specifically fossils. Doesn't matter that someone is after her in order to get her father's ill-gotten windfall, doesn't matter that she doesn't have a lick of common sense, doesn't matter that she wants to be in charge of everything all the time even though she starts off every mission to the caves by walking in the opposite direction from which she should be going in, doesn't matter that her future in-laws and husband hate the caves (due to a childhood incident), doesn't matter that her step-mother is heavily pregnant with her second child in less than two years and is close to delivering - no, none of that matters. All that matters is the caves and the fossils that could be found there. And why are these damn fossils so important to her? Hold on to your chairs:
The fish fossils found in the caves in the mountains could help her prove her theory to the world that the Great Flood (the story of Noah and his ark) really happened, and the whole world would then turn to Christianity/become Christians. She would get recognition, acclaim, and praise from both the scientific community and the church for her work at bridging the two communities and bringing the world's population to Jesus.
Yep, that is how the author shoe-horned religion into this story. By making the most unlikeable heroine (selfish, obsessed, short tempered, judgmental, no damn sense) try to connect fish fossils with a biblical story, using very vague science-ish terms. This from the same character who looked west to watch the sunrise over the mountains. ::HEAD DESK::
Ethan Kincaid: the book's sequel bait, although there was so much Ethan and Audra in this book you would think it was about them and not Rafe and Julia and her fossils. He is not a smart man (none of the brothers are bright), and chafes under Rafe's commands.
Seth Kincaid: the youngest brother and the only one who makes sense. He doesn't show up until the last 25% of the book. Julia is extremely, disgustingly vile to Seth, because he is the reason the brothers don't want to go into the caves and explore the fossils with her. Seth was hurt in the childhood incident and was a POW during the war (American Civil War, but the author called it the War Between the States *sigh*) and is suffering from PTSD as a result. Yet he is still the smartest and sanest one in the group and ends up saving them all.
Wendell Gilliland: ne'er do well husband of Audre and father of Julia. He dies by the end of the first half, and the reader wished he could take a few of these characters with him. Typically historical romance villain.
Audre Gilliland: just a couple of years older than her step-daughter, Audre has one child (14 month old Maggie) and heavily pregnant with child number two, despite hating her husband (she follows the tradition of allowing her husband his martial privileges regardless if she feels like having sex or not). She doesn't remember or can't figure out when she got pregnant, so doesn't know when she is due. She doesn't quite understand pregnancy or having babies, despite the fact she ALREADY has one. She ends up physically restraining Seth to keep him from going back into a cave, both lose their footing and end up falling hard to the ground. Her water breaks right then and there, but pretends nothing happens and moves the group back up the mountain (via horseback, riding in a regular saddle) to the Gilliland cabin while in labor. No one in the group suspects Audre is in labor - WTF? Labor is not so easily hidden people! Seriously, the kid shoots out her vagina the moment she is in her bedroom. Julia helps with the delivery, even though Julia still doesn't understand how babies are born despite helping deliver Audre's first kid. Audre is a weakling and weepy woman, but she is stubborn and dumb like her step-daughter.
Tracker: the villain who is taken down by Julia's beating his head in with a rock.
The caves/mountains of Colorado Territory: the story takes place about 3/4ths of the time in the caves. I kept wishing for a cave-in to take out the characters.
Stay far away from this mess of a book. 0 stars to infinity and beyond.