It's not fair. I can't believe she's retiring! And what kind of idiot am I to pull one of her books out of my TBR so soon after hearing that bit of devastating news?
I just wrapped up Prairie Moon by Maggie Osborne, and man was it good. It starts out fairly conventional - but dang if the ending doesn't pack of whollop. I've read a few reviews since then that suggested the ending was "rushed," and while I can see that argument, it wasn't even a blip on my reading radar screen.
I'm one of those rarified readers who doesn't feel it's necessary to "relate" to the characters in order to enjoy a book. Frankly, more often than not, the characters are going through events that I cannot relate to since I've never been through them myself. However, I do need to understand the characters. I need to understand the choices they make. If they run around acting like morons - well, let's just say the book is sunk.
That's why I love Maggie Osborne's characters. They are never stupid. Oh sure, they make bad choices. But hell, who never makes one bad decision in their lifetime? Osborne succeeds where many authors fail because she makes the reader understand why her characters made those bad choices. I may not necessarily agree with that choice - but I understand it all the same.
Prairie Moon features a time-worn plot. It's 10 years after the American Civil War and Della Ward is still haunted by her memories. Then a stranger, James Cameron, comes riding up to her ramshackle farm house and presents her with her dead husband's last letter to her. Della thinks Cameron was her husband's friend - little does she know he's the man who ended her his life.
Clarence Ward put a face on all the good men that Cameron killed during the war. So yeah, he's feeling guilty as hell. He also realizes that with the death of her husband, Della's future was drastically altered. She was forced to give up her baby girl, work in a saloon, and now spends her days growing pumpkins on her farm. Still feeling he has a debt to pay - he takes Della on a cross-country trip to reunite her with her daughter.
I tend to actively dislike Big Secret plots - and Cameron hangs onto his Big Secret a long time. Yes, I found it annoying - but dang if I couldn't see his point. I also loved the ending! I know many readers will despise a certain twist that Osborne throws in here - but frankly, a shiny, happy, rainbow ending wasn't going to fit. Not after all these characters have been through.
And no, you ain't getting spoilers out of me - it would ruin the effect. I will say though that yes, this is a romance - so yes, hero and heroine do end up together in the end.
That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.