08 October 2010

Review: Open Country, by Kaki Warner

I highly recommend this Western romance set in the late 1800s in the New Mexico Territory, even if you're not keen on Westerns. Open Country got such great reviews that I figured I'd give it a try, especially since the heroine is a nurse. (I love historical romances with a medical element to them.)

The heroine is in some serious danger and meets the hero following a train wreck in which he's badly injured. Both H/H are believable, well-written characters with major hurdles to face. Though I loved the way Hank and Molly interacted, some of the best scenes involve Hank's exchanges with his brother. Warner really gets the way brothers interact, alternating affectionate jabs with smart-ass comments. She has a gift for dialogue, something that contributes to the page-turning pace.

Though the H/H ruminate a bit--Warner makes them both sufficiently introspective to pack some real feeling into the story--she handles it with the ease of a pro, achieving that hard-to-find balance between thought and action.

As an example--Hank works out his indecision and frustration by cutting a stack of wood. You don't hear what's going on in his head. Instead, Warner does take you into the minds of characters watching from the window--their concern for Hank makes his distress palpable. You can almost hear that ax slamming into a log as Hank lets out his anger and gets his head on straight.

Even if you don't think you'd enjoy a Western, you might want to give Open Country a try. I plan to go back and read Pieces of Sky, the first book in the three-part series, as soon as I get the chance.

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