Every so often, I find one of those books that just takes my breath away as I'm reading. Every so often, I find one whose characters stay close to my side even when I'm not reading it, going through my days hovering in the corner of my mind. Every so often I find a book where the not-kisses are intense as the kisses, where the emotion is so high I feel taut as a bow while reading, where I savor each page.
The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz is one of those books. I've never done a rating system, but I'm tempted to come up with one for this just so I can give it maximum stars.
Roxanna Rowan has lost everything she knew in Virginia. Her mother has died, her betrothed has broken their engagement. The only promise left in her life is her beloved father, who is serving as a scrivener to the fearsome Colonel Cassius McLinn on the frontier in Ketucke. Not knowing what else to do, Roxanna packs up everything she owns and heads into the unknown--only to arrive at Fort Endeavor and discover her father is dead. Trapped at the outpost, surrounded by natives that are working for the British, Roxanna has little choice but to stay in this terrible place, where her father's memory haunts her home and the towering Irish commander haunts her mind . . . and soon her heart.
Cassius McLinn has been given charge of the western frontier, but it is punishment rather than honor. He ought to be in the east, serving General Washington. Fighting the British outright, just as he had given up his inheritance in Ireland to do. But he is instead in this godforsaken wilderness, with too few supplies, too few men, and now a passel of women to care for--including the too-alluring, too-generous daughter of the man he accidentally shot in the shadowy twilight on their last campaign. He cannot explain why Roxie Rowan burrows so quickly into his heart. What he does know is that when she discovers her father's death came at his hands, she will hate him. His Irish premonition tells him he will die out here, perhaps even at the hands of the spy Roxie's father had discovered before his death . . . but is there a chance he will know happiness before he does?
The Colonel's Lady is . . . just WOW. It's heart-wrenching. It's beyond beautiful. It's complicated and engaging and memorable. It's absolutely everything a book needs to be, and I can honestly think of nothing I would change about it. As I read it, I could feel the danger lurking in the forests just beyond the fort's walls. I could feel the tension stretching the characters to their breaking points. I could sense the resignation of Cass, the desperation of Roxanna. Which made the love story all the more poignant.
This book can boast the most intense not-a-kiss scene I think I've ever read. The actual kissing scene is awesome too, but I have to note the first because it's far harder to find. ;-) Buy boy howdy! The book would be worth reading for that alone.
I've given up wasting time on books I'm not enjoying, so pretty much anything I review on here is going to be one I like and fully approve. But I have to say that The Colonel's Lady holds a spot on my favorites list. It is truly a masterful combination of wordsmithing and storytelling, of real, torn characters and a high-stakes plot.
Go get your hands on this book. Now. Seriously. GO. You'll thank me for it. =)