Sunday, June 8, 2014

Welcome to Wyoming - Kate Bridges (HH #1179 - Apr 2014)

Series: Mail-Order Weddings (Book 2)

What kind of situation is she walking into?

Seeking justice for his murdered colleagues, Detective Simon Garr has gone undercover as infamous jewel thief Jarrod Ledbetter. All is going to plan, until he finds out that Jarrod's mail-order bride is on her way to Wyoming! Simon can't afford to jeopardize his cover, and is left with only one option -- he must marry the woman!

When his poor bride, Natasha O'Sullivan, arrives she doesn't have a clue what she is walking into -- but Simon finds there is more to her than first meets the eye. Because Natasha has brought along secrets aplenty of her own….

Simon is working undercover as a jewel thief as he tries to find out where the man hid the loot from his last heist. Things are going great until he discovers that Jerrod had sent away for a mail-order bride. He can't blow his cover, so he has to go along with it until he can figure out what to do. Natasha is a victim of the Great Chicago Fire and has become a mail-order bride to start a new life. She liked everything she found out about Jerrod in the letters that they exchanged. But when she arrived in Wyoming he is different than what she expected.

Simon is a loner. His father walked out when he was six, his mother had drunk herself to death by the time he was eight. He survived on his own from that point on. He doesn't get involved in relationships, believing that he brings nothing but trouble to those around him. He feels that he is responsible for the deaths of his two friends and is determined to find the missing loot. Simon is not happy to find out about the expected bride, and initially plans to simply send her back where she came from. Being a less than trusting man, he worries that she might be involved in the robberies and decides to keep her around until he can find out. He runs into a problem right away in that he is drawn to her in a way he's never felt before. He wants to believe that she is innocent, but some things she says make him think that she is involved. He has enough of a conscience that he doesn't want to marry Natasha under false pretenses, but it soon becomes obvious that he won't have a choice. In spite of his belief in her guilt, he doesn't want her hurt so he does what he can to protect her. Simon spends a lot of time going back and forth about her guilt. He starts to not trust himself because his head and his heart believe different things. Simon also senses the same sort of loneliness in Natasha that he feels himself which just adds to his confusion. In the end, he realizes the depth of his feelings, but he isn't sure that Natasha will forgive him for his deceptions.

Natasha had lost almost everything in the Great Fire. Desperate for a new start she advertised as a mail-order bride. She picked Jerrod because, like her, he was in the jewelry business. She had spent years working for her grandfather and is very knowledgeable about many facets of the business. After months of correspondence she feels that Jerrod is the one she can have the best relationship with. She heads to Wyoming with a heart full of hope for her future. When she meets him, he seems to be far more distant emotionally than he was in his letters. He is also dragging his feet on having the actual wedding. She is attracted to him, and uses some of the things she learned from other women in Chicago to try to show him how she feels. She also frequently gets the feeling that he is judging her for something she knows nothing about. Natasha is determined to settle in to her new life in Wyoming and tries to pin him down on his feelings about her helping in his jewelry business. She shows him her abilities when she assists a couple and prevents them from buying fake jewels. As the days go on she falls more for him and is thrilled when they finally marry, only to be hurt and furious when she discovers his deception. She has to decide if she can forgive him enough to let her love for him win out.

I enjoyed the mystery part of the story as Simon uses his undercover persona to try to find the missing loot. It was interesting to see the way that he had to adjust his plans when Natasha arrived. While his trust issues had a lot to do with his suspicions about her, it was also easy to see why he was concerned. I liked seeing the way that he used misdirection to keep from giving away the fact that he wasn't Jerrod. I really liked the way that he was able to get Natasha to help him, even though he knew he had really screwed up with her. The final showdown was very good.

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