This is a sweet novella, a clean romance, and what’s more, it’s FREE. I was intrigued by the historical setting (as I had read about the Oregon Trail years back) and by the description of the book. I wondered how the girl pretending to be a boy would work out in such circumstances.
The novella moves at a good pace and has all the elements fans of the genre would expect: a man a and woman destined for each other who try to resist the evident attraction between them (it’s complicated), a love rival (well, two, one each), setbacks, misunderstandings, past difficulties that get in the way, and family matters (that at times help and at others hinder the path of true love).
The setting works well for the novella, and we get a good sample of the difficulties of the Trail and how hard it must have been for the pioneers, although the amount of detail would not satisfy a keen reader of historical novels. The characters are likeable and relatable, and although it is a short book (it includes two chapters of the next book in the series as well, so it is shorter than it seems), we get to care for them and want to see them settled and happy, especially after the hard times they have to live through. Both of the main characters, Phoebe and Colton, carry a weight of guilt because they feel they have not protected their families as they should and although they might play tough and pretend to be hard, they have hearts of gold and are loyal to a fault. Although Phoebe is hard-working and determined, she does not subvert the boundaries of her gender, and at times is in need of rescue (although she does a fair amount of rescuing herself, mostly emotionally). Colton is not a flawless hero, but rises up to the challenge, and beyond, when is needed.
The author is particularly skilled at managing to make readers connect emotionally with the characters and the events, without going over the top pulling at our heartstrings. There are sad moments, but there are also joyful and light moments and, overall, this is an uplifting read.
An easy read, with likeable characters, a romantic couple we root for from the beginning, and an interesting background. Although it is not full of surprises, it will satisfy fans of the genre. I became fond of the characters and enjoyed the sample of the next novel, so I might visit again.