One Heart to Win
Published by Simon and Schuster
Some young ladies marry for money and social standing, a few lucky ones marry for love, but Tiffany Warren is marrying to end a feud. Honoring her mother’s wishes, Tiffany reluctantly travels west to meet her estranged father and his enemy’s eldest son, rancher Hunter Callahan. Once the Warrens and the Callahans are united by marriage, both clans will stop squabbling over a disputed strip of land. But in the chaos of a train robbery Tiffany seizes a golden opportunity: By assuming the identity of her father’s new housekeeper she can live with the father she never knew and assess his true character, as well as that of the neighboring cowboy to whom she is betrothed. But, too late, Tiffany discovers that the rivalry between the Warrens and the Callahans has escalated when the Callahans steal the Warrens’ “housekeeper” as soon as she steps off the train!
Now Tiffany, masquerading as Jennifer Fleming, finds herself living in the enemy camp, under the same roof as her fiancé. All too soon she learns her intended is a handsome, sweet-talking charmer whom she has to fight off because he can’t keep his eyes—or his hands—off Jennifer. After Tiffany’s charade is exposed, she refuses to marry Hunter, not even to end the hostilities between the families. How can she wed a man who is in love with another woman? As Hunter goes about claiming his rightful bride-to-be, he knows that although he loves two women— proper, elegant Tiffany as well as spunky, passionate Jennifer—he has only one heart to win.
My initial impression of this book is hard to gauge. I have long been a fan of Johanna Lindsey, this is her 50th book and I would wager that I have read half of them. Many at a time when my reading was so prolific and generally focused on Romance, you know, those young fanciful years when a girl genuinely believes that wild cowboys can be tamed, where the most heartless of rogues could learn that there is one spell binding woman who could fill their empty aching lives. I was once that girl. I have not been without romance, I have indeed met my soul mate and enjoy a rather blissful and fulfilling relationship.
BUT, my tastes have broadened and grown. I am not so mainstream, happily ever after anymore. I love a bit of risk, and I totally enjoy a bit of risqué fun as well. So in recent years, I have not read much of Johanna Lindsey's work. One Heart to Win, was a difficult purchase to make. Had I grown beyond these fanciful tales? I had read other historic romances recently that had fallen flat despite some rather tempting story lines. I returned to Johanna Lindsey to determine if I would still like the genre, that perhaps it was these other authors telling an inferior tale, not the genre that I was disenchanted with.
One Heart to Win was a bit on the slow side to start. I think it was ten (10) chapters in before Tiffany and Hunter actually met and then there were references to a dangerous gunslinger that made me doubt the summary was a true representation of the novel? Was this really about Hunter and Tiffany? Sure there was background information, and all of it later proved mostly necessary to the story. It wasn't boring background... An unexplained mystery of Tiffany and her mother's separation from the rest of the family, a great train journey, a robbery and a kidnapping. My, my, my a faint hearted girl would surely swoon from it all. As a romance reader though, what I really wanted was to get lost in the angst of new love, to revel in the conflict of what is right and what the heart insists upon. This is where Johanna Lindsey excels.
I loved the development of the relationship between Hunter and Tiffany, it was complicated by secrets, it was enhanced by sexual tension, it was torn apart by an untimely revelation and restored with the help of... of a pig, of all things. Yes a sweet little piglet! I defy you all to put a piggy in the midst of your romance story and pull that off successfully. The point is that Johanna Lindsey's characters are engaging and multi-faceted in ways that are both endearing and surprising.
There was much, much more to the story than that, but I don't want to give too much away.
Suffice to say, that I loved it. It's been a long time since I read a Johanna Lindsey historic romance. It's like coming home... some authors know how to hit the sweet spot.
Disclaimer: This review is totally unsolicited. I bought the story and chose to review it. The opinions expressed are my own.