Read with: Amazon Kindle
Genre: Historical Romance
Hero: Cord Bennet
Heroine: Anne Wells
Date of Publication: April 9, 2010
Started On: September 13, 2010
Finished On: September 14, 2o10
Rarely do we come across books on Amazon that have received an average rating of 5 stars. This is one such book that has achieved this status, which caught my eye once again whilst browsing through a discussion thread. Reading the synopsis, I immediately knew that this would be my kind of story and I immediately fell in love as soon as I started on page 1.
Anne Wells, has always shamed her family in one way or the other. Having never really bided by the conventional rules of the society and not being a real beauty to make men swoon at her feet, Anne had always stood apart from the rest of them. Elroy Turrell had been the first man who had taken an interest in her and Anne had been whisked off to Chicago to live with her aunt since her father Edward thought that a farmer’s boy was really beneath them. Then had come Richard Tyler, a banker’s son whom she had met in Chicago. Engaged to the man for 4 years, Anne had broken things off with Richard because she had finally seen the light and knew things would never work between a woman who wanted her independence and freedom from the restrictive rules of the society whilst Richard was of the opposite mindset. The broken engagement had enraged her father much more and eventually he had brought her back home. And then trouble had started when George Detrick, a widower, older than Anne’s father started pursuing her, a man who was fat and greasy with beady eyes and smelled worse.
Edward Wells was delighted by the fact that his daughter could be married off even though Anne made her refusal to wed him pretty clear. Driven into a rage beyond anything Anne had witnessed from her father before, Anne was locked up in a boarded room, given little food than what was necessary, her father’s plan to get her to agree to marriage with Detrick or starve to death. Anne finally manages to escape before she is driven to do just that, and hitches a ride unbeknown to the owners of the carriage. When the storm that had been raging had driven her to seek shelter in a farmstead, little does Anne know that she would sleep through the night to wake up and find herself at the home of Cord Bennet, a man despised and feared throughout her hometown.
Cord Bennet, a man with an unusual shade of light brown eyes, jet black hair with a bronze face that was all angles and plains who emanated a fierceness with his stillness has a soft spot for Anne though he doesn’t admit it. Cord had been the first child of Jamie Bennet’s shocking second marriage to an Indian woman named Song. Though Cord and his sister Marie had been protected from the vicious tongues of the townspeople who didn’t take too kindly to the mixed blooded children, they had been tolerated because the Bennet family had been richer than anyone else in town. But it hadn’t taken long for Cord and his sister to wise up and face the fact that they would always be treated differently than their step siblings.
When Cord hears of the circumstances that had landed Anne at his home and needing his help to get to Chicago to see whether her aunt Clara would once again put up with her, Cord knows that he would help her regardless of the outcome. But when Edward comes looking for Anne with a mob crowd rather than a search party and slaps Anne around to make her admit that the savage and brute that Cord was rumored to be had taken advantage of her and raped her and Anne refuses, all hell breaks loose. Cord who is rumored to have special skills in fighting, acquired during his days living with the Indians is unable to do anything to protect Anne or himself. Beaten to the point of death until he agrees to marry Anne since Detrick refused to wed a “soiled” woman, Anne and Cord make their vows amidst violence that had me reeling. Even afterwards, Cord has to helplessly watch on whilst Anne’s father watches on with the judge whilst the group of bullies Anne’s father had rounded up try and rape her.
It is by a miracle that these two survive the unjust violence that was unleashed on them. Thinking that Cord would die during the days that follow, Anne still stubbornly nurse him through, a man who is black and blue all over and bleeding in his urine. The doctor’s prognosis isn’t good either and its by sheer force of will of Anne that Cord comes through. Thus starts a fragile relationship based on an acquaintance that had been made when the both of them had only been 10 years old, when Anne had come to the rescue of Marie who was been bullied by other girls in class with whom Cord had not known what to do with.
This story is so beautiful on so many levels. Cord, a man who is hated even by his own family and of whom everyone expects and always believes the worst of finds himself with a woman who puts her undying trust in him and his character. Whilst Cord had always expected to live in a quiet corner of town until the end of his days, the unexpectedness of having Anne in his life shakes him to the very core. Sweet yearning and desire unfurls in a man who would sell his soul to keep Anne by his side through eternity, though he knows a woman like Anne is too good for a man like him.
Anne blossoms under the strong and patient man that her husband is. The awareness which Anne has of her husband which she doesn’t even know, slowly kindles and burns into something beautiful that made every scene with Cord and Anne one worth a lot of sighing over. Anne and her zealous for life paints Cord’s otherwise bleak life in colors. A future that had seemed endless with no joy insight is suddenly filled with laughter and joy and togetherness as these two tackle life, its everyday challenges, and taming Cord’s family and the townspeople all in one go.
But Edward Wells, who is seething at the mere thought of her daughter being “forced” to live with that “savage” is livid when Anne refuses to come home and annul the marriage to which Edward had forced her into. His cunning plans rips Anne apart from Cord, just when Cord had come to accept the fact that things between Anne and him were meant to be and was not a temporary arrangement. I so fell in love with Cord, for his gentleness which was his innermost strength that everyone else refused to see, but was so clear to his wife and partner for life. Beautiful ending for a beautifully done story, which makes me yearn and wish for another book by the author sometime very, very soon!
Very highly recommended for lovers of historical and American Western romances. This is a book that is a definite winner, one not to be missed!
(Anne)”Do you know that every time you look at me like that you erase the hurt of at least a hundred times someone said I wasn’t ladylike enough? You make me feel so – female. I think to myself that must be the way a hungry wolf looks at a lamb.”
He moved then, walked to her. She found herself thinking maybe topaz, maybe his eyes are like smoked topaz. This kiss was not tentative, but sure and certain. For months she had dreamed of kisses, but the sensual magic of the firm lips was sweeter than anything she had known to dream about.
Cord fought sleep, wanting to savor this moment and the memories of the day. Anne’s breath fanned across his throat sweetly. I wanted you so much it hurt. She made him feel like the king he was sure she had been born for. He thought of her face as she ran into his arms after the race, the feel of her in his arms dancing in the summer night. Perhaps there would never again be such a day, but he had this one. And he had her – now.
As he finally stopped fighting sleep, he wondered if maybe just occasionally the gods designed a woman fit for a king or a prince and then gave her to an ordinary man. Maybe they did such a thing once in a while, knowing an ordinary man would treasure her more, love her better. Maybe they even let him keep her – for a while.
Whirling in Cord’s arms, Anne was aware of nothing but the floating sensation and the eyes of gold so close to her own and so somber.
“You know, Annie, a long time ago an old man told me beauty doesn’t mean much in a woman. It disappears with age. But he said some women have something better. They have a special glow that lasts all their life and just gets richer. You’re like that. You really shine.”
She could feel her eyes growing moist.
Her hand slipped from his shoulder to his face without conscious thought. He rubbed his cheek lightly against her fingers and kissed her palm. The scandal would last a hundred years, she thought, and willed her hand back to his shoulder. The smile started then, a real smile, teeth flashing oh so white in his bronze face. Her heart soared, and in truth, that night Anne Wells Bennett was not the only one who saw beauty in her fierce, dark man.