Injured during a train robbery, Regina Shelton awakens with no memory of who she is—and in the arms of the most handsome man she has ever seen. The dangerous stranger calls her “Elizabeth,” and his touch sets her blood racing—impelling her toward a romantic destiny not rightfully her own.
Slade Delanza has finally found the missing heiress who came west to wed his brother James. But now James is dead—and the rugged loner is expected to marry wealthy “Elizabeth Sinclair” himself, in order to rescue his family’s California ranch from ruin. Though he aches to possess his innocent young bride, Slade’s honor demands that he deny his own desires. And he vows to resist temptation, never dreaming of the stunning secrets that could seal their love—or tear them apart forever.
Regina is on her way via train, with her chaperone, to Paso Robles Resort to take the baths there. She’s in America from England to attend a family wedding and her parents have returned to England. During the ride the train is boarded by thieves and they’re not nice, gentle ones either. When one of the bandits gets a good look at Regina she decides that not only will she save her pearls, she’s going to save her virginity as well. She manages to leave the train car and jumps off the slow moving train (can I just say that even a slow moving train travels quite quickly).
When Regina is found beside the tracks she has no memory of who she is. The man who finds her, Slade Delanza, calls her Elizabeth and Slade believes that she is his brother James’ fiancé who was heading toward their rancho to get married to James. But James is dead. The rancho, Miramar, still needs Elizabeth’s funds (she’s an heiress) to get the ranch back on track. The only way to do that now is to bring Elizabeth back to Miramar and have Slade marry her. Slade’s not really fond of the idea – even though he really likes Elizabeth and is hot for her – but he loved James and feels dishonorable about taking a woman to wife that his brother loved. Slade finally agrees and marries Elizabeth but plans on making it a marriage in name only (he didn’t bother to share the information with Elizabeth, btw). He can’t resist Elizabeth’s charms on their wedding night however and is disgusted with himself in the morning. He takes off for San Francisco where he’s been living and working for the past 10 years and doesn’t bother to let Elizabeth know that he’s gone.
Elizabeth, a couple of days before the wedding, remembers that she’s Regina. But she finds herself in love with the brooding Slade and decides to go through with the wedding. When she finds out that Slade has left her she is pissed off (yeah, I would be too) and heads to SF to get a divorce from the man.
But when she gets to SF things change. Slade turns out to be a completely different man than she thought she married – both good and bad. Her parents return to America to see her and her father is not happy at his daughter being married for her money, and Slade doesn’t know what the hell he wants. If he does, he’s not admitting it to anyone, including himself.
Where do I begin to tell you my thoughts this tale? The story takes place in late 1899 in California which was a change for me and it was a nice one. Usually when I read historicals they’re set in England. While I’d like to say that I got a taste of England from Regina because she was supposed to be all that was good and proper – she never, in my opinion, acted like she was a proper lady (she was an Earl’s daughter!). She really acted like an American – and a contemporary one at that!
The story, for me, had too much going on in it. Regina and Slade had so much going on in their lives that it was a bit overwhelming for me as the reader. The entire story takes place in the span of only about 6 weeks, I think – no more than 2 months – and the crap that this couple went through was crazy. I’d like to say that I liked Slade and Regina so much that the reading went smoothly for me but truly it was just overwhelming. Just when I thought we could work on some issues with the marriage something else would come up. It was just too much.
Slade and Regina – I’m just not sure I liked them together…or apart for that matter. Slade was a quiet, brooding man who wanted things done his way or no way. Regina while she simpered a lot in this book, and “cried out” a lot (with an abundance of exclamation points thrown in) turned out to be one tough cookie. I’d like to say that I admired her for sticking through the tough times but really, at a couple of different points I wanted her to just cut and run. She reminded me of a Timex slogan – takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
I’ve liked most of what I’ve read from Joyce. I really like Joyce’s DeWarren series and some of her paranormals, but this one was just ok. It felt to me like it was supposed to be this epic love story and it fell short in a lot of ways.
Rating: 3 out of 5
You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place