Read with: Amazon Kindle
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero: Matthew Tanner Jennings
Heroine: Eugenia Foxworth
Date of Publication: November 23, 2004
Started On: August 25, 2010
Finished On: August 27, 2010
If you want to read about heroines who are feisty, independent and live on the fringes of the society having to make do with what they have and are all the more strong for it, Maggie Osborne is always the author to look for. Fox is a heroine as feisty and independent as they come. Born into the rich affluent society in San Francisco, her mother who has a substantial inheritance re-marries when her father dies while Fox is quite young. Her new husband Hobbs Jennings steals the inheritance that is due Fox when her mother dies, leaving Jennings as Fox’s guardian. Since Fox was quite young, around 6 years old, she has no inkling of what is going on when she is bundled up and lands at the home of an aunt who has several kids of her own to look after. Fox ends up being more of a servant at their home and it is at her aunts place that she meets Peaches, a black man who changes her life.
Peaches and Fox strike up an unusual friendship during a time period where black people were merely tolerated. Peaches helps her get educated to the extent he is able to and teaches her everything that she knows. When Fox grows up, she and Peaches run away from their aunt’s place together and make do with whatever work they can get on their way. When Fox reads about Jennings and how he came into an inheritance when his wife and daughter died, it is then Fox realizes just how immensely Fox had been cheated and betrayed. Swearing vengeance on the man who was the reason for the hardships that Fox had had to endure, Fox promises that she would kill Jennings even if it is the last thing she does.
Fox does manage to make her way to San Fransisco and Jennings. But the world Jennings resides in makes Fox wary and she flees back to Peaches and makes a life for her and him in the West. It is there that Fox builds up a reputation as one of the most sought after scout west of the Rockies where she has led numerous folks through wild unexplored terrain until a gunshot wound ends her guiding career. Resigned to living a more sedate life, it is years later that a handsome stranger comes riding through, looking for the notorious guide Fox and encounters the woman who would change his life forever.
When Matthew Tanner, who works as an engineer in the mines of Hobbs Jennings, receives word that his father has been kidnapped and the kidnappers wanted ransom delivered to Denver in less than 3 months, he has no choice but to seek out the services of the best guide in the area. When he comes across Fox, thinking Fox to be a man, he is surprised to find the willful and defiant woman who seems more than capable of leading the cargo that would hold the ransom gold. Though Fox drives a mean bargain, Tanner knows that she is the best available and hires two men who would guard the money throughout the journey.
Fox feels her stomach tighten and hot all over every time she meets Tanner’s eyes. Suddenly Fox longs to be beautiful, demure and all those things she never had a chance to be just so Tanner would want her. Fox knows that the divide between her and Tanner is far too wide. Whereas education and ingrained culture seethes from every pore of Tanner’s body, Fox knows that as Peaches points out, her manners are uncouth at the best.
Tanner cannot understand for the world why he is drawn to the woman who leads him on the dangerous journey towards Denver. What Tanner does know is that he has never wanted a woman like he wants Fox, and though he knows that he has nothing to give to Fox, except a casual affair until they reach Denver, when Fox states that she wants the affair, Tanner knows he has no choice but to give in.
As usual in Osborne novels, the tension between the hero and heroine is what makes the book so delicious. The constant awareness between Tanner and Fox kept at a simmering high makes you sigh and wish for a tall, hard man like Tanner for your own.
Fox knows that life for her would end upon reaching Denver, because she aims to finish the job which she couldn’t complete before. Fox wants to enjoy whatever life can throw her way before submitting herself to the hangman noose, which she knows would swiftly follow when she kills Jennings. Peaches, who accompany them on the journey, who is so sick that he can barely make it through, tries to sway Fox’s mind from killing Jennings.
The journey is one filled with danger, betrayals and the death of Peaches which was heartbreaking to read about. But the biggest shock of all comes when the reader finds out who Tanner’s father actually is, and when the time comes for Fox to decide whether she is going to let her hatred for a man triumph over the love she feels for another.
I felt a teeny tiny bit cheated that Jennings in the end was portrayed not as the villain that I would have wanted, but I guess forgiveness is always better than seeking revenge, since it is that much harder always to forgive someone than to go on hating them forever.
I guess I have only one or two Maggie Osborne novels left. I am going to miss reading these wonderful novels penned by a brilliant author who makes reading romance that much more enjoyable.