Thursday, May 3, 2012

Conor's Way by Laura Lee Guhrke

Book Description:
A courageous woman...
In the aftermath of the Civil War, beautiful and stubborn Olivia Maitland was determined to save her family and their near-bankrupt Louisiana plantation no matter what-even if it meant taking in cynical ex-boxer Conor Branigan in exchange for help. It wasn't long before she discovered the secret pain hidden beneath his rugged ways. And his ache touched something in her, lighting afire in her heart.

A hard-fighting man...
Conor Branigan had seen his family and his hopes destroyed in Ireland and had sworn never to care for anyone again. But now he dared hope for a love greater than any he'd ever dreamt of, with Olivia and her three adopted children-and a future that he would fight to keep forever.

Quickie Review:
This is the story of tortured Irishman, Conor Branigan, who finds love in post-Civil War Louisiana - albeit reluctantly until he can no longer resist the steady, peaceful mien of Olivia Maitland who manages to change his mind. A shy spinster raising three adopted daughters, Olivia is a survivor.  Fighting to keep her plantation afloat and out of the hands of the local villain who wants to build a railway right through her peach orchard, Olivia's stubborn determination baffles Conor who can't believe she won't take the money.  But over time, he gradually learns to admire her grit and agrees to help her in the end.  She refuses all the offers presented to her to sell, unwilling to ever give up her family home. Conor turns up at just the right time to help her with her problems yet he's torn with helping her and choosing to remain aloof and free to be his own self with no ties to anyone.  Yet, when she is threatened unless she sells her property, he can't just leave and turn his back on Olivia and her girls who have become dearer to him than he'd like to admit. This loner and drifter is becoming a family man, whether he likes it or not.

Switching back and forth between his time in Louisiana with Olivia and his time living in Ireland, we learn about Conor's haunted past, how he lost his entire family and then joined the Irish Cause for independence, becoming a Fenian until he was caught and put in prison.  Eventually he finds his way to America, landing in Boston and earning money as a prize fighter, passing through towns and villages until he ends up almost dead in the road in Louisiana where Olivia finds him.  In need of a man to help around her plantation fixing the roof and the upcoming harvest, he seems to be an answer to her prayers.  Nursing him back to health he soon becomes a fixture around the house, although he must remain a secret or they'll both be run out of town, her reputation in tatters.  Even though nothing is going on between them, there is no chaperon in the house and she is a single woman.  It's just not done!  There's also the sticky matter that the same man who wants to buy Olivia's property is the same man that had Conor beaten and left for dead, warning him that if he ever saw his face around town again he'd kill him.  He's also the same man that had been the overseer of Olivia's plantation before the war who's suit she rejected.

As you can guess, Olivia falls in love with the enigmatic stranger she stumbled upon in the road.  Yet, she knows he wants to move on and doesn't want him to stay against his will.  Yet, that is exactly what happens and my heart broke for them as they both must deal with society's edict of what is considered right and wrong.

I love Guhrke's historical romances and this wasn't bad but there wasn't a lot of chemistry between Olivia and Conor.  Still, it was nice story and a departure from my typical historicals set in England.  This is a "clean" romance by the way which I bought on kindle for a rock bottom price.


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