|Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman|
Let’s begin with the summary:
In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father’s rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.
With the ranch now under Slade’s careful eye, he will unearth more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal and murder threatens more than the well-being of the ranch, endangering the lives of those who hold it dear. With days dwindling until the rest of the Donovan clan arrive to the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed alters their futures forever.
And now, my review:
I enjoyed the characters and setting of this story. Though the author chose a cliché “story,” she added some elements that helped make the story fresh, and her writing was strong. Along with some predictable aspects, she included some twists and kept me reading. Quite honestly, the number of cliches distracted me from the story, but these may have simply been the way the characters all thought. I've known many, many people who use cliches in their everyday life, outside of my writer friends. So a character whose introspection and speech include them is believable.
One of the themes of Claiming Mariah was forgiveness. God's forgiveness, but also that between characters. Outlaws abounded in this book, and their choices affected so many people around them. I liked how we watched redemption and second chances at work, as a theme throughout. And the symbolism of the cat worked well.
Sometimes, when I’m reading a novel that is not part of a series, I crave a sequel highlighting one of the first book’s secondary characters. That happened with this novel. I kept imagining the author developing a story around the hero’s brother, Buck, who was himself heroic.
Lovers of old-west-based historical romance, full of ranches and cowboys, will enjoy this novel.
Note: at the time of this review, this book is only available in e-book format.