Friday, September 6, 2013

Amber Stokes's Bleeding Heart ~ Reviewed

By Amber Stokes
July 2013
Seasons of a Story Publishing 

Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

Sally Clay's livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others - and hers isn't the only heart that's broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.

Looking for an Old West action-packed story? Have I found a book for you! Bleeding Heart is a rootin-tootin-shootin’ debut novel by Amber Stokes. There’s plenty of romance, the requisite gunfight and hanging, a marshal, saloons and yes, even a train ride.

The story takes place shortly after the Civil War. Heroine Sally Clay is desperate to leave behind her life in a brothel to chase after the man she loves. The thing is…the fella doesn’t really love her. It’s one mishap and adventure after another, keeping the reader in suspense of who Sally will end up with. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, wham! Yet another plot twist. I won’t give you a spoiler, but doggone if there was one surprise I totally did not see coming.

Sally is painfully aware of her sordid past, creating a very realistic guilt that makes her a believable character. She’s also impetuous, making bad decisions without even thinking about the consequences. Everywhere Sally looks for safety and love, she doesn’t find it.

The villain is someone you love to hate, although I’m not quite sure what his motivation is to have Sally for his own, other than perhaps he hates not getting his way. Basically, he’s a creepy stalker.

Love the sidekick Myghal. Full of good advice, solid, dependable. You’ll root for him, cry for him, and close the book with an immense amount of compassion for this character.

I thought I could trust the cook, Zachary Taylor, but then I wasn’t certain…turns out, well, you don’t really want me to tell you, do you?

Overall, this is a good summer read. There’s a big jump between part I and II, one I didn’t expect. I would’ve liked to see the action played out, though that would’ve made this a much longer book. Bleeding Heart has a whole lot of broken hearts all over the place, except for the reader’s—a solid debut novel for Amber Stokes.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

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