Pregnant and burdened with a terrible secret, Jessica has left England for the American West in search of a new life. Brady, a hard-bitten rancher haunted by the violence of his past, is desperate to protect his land and family from a blood feud that has already claimed one brother. She’s fancy hats and pamphlets on deportment. He’s rough manners and twenty years of blood on his hands. An improbable pair. But after their stagecoach crashes and Jessica is stranded at his high mountain ranch until she gives birth, antipathy slowly becomes attraction. He teaches her to trust and laugh again — she helps him find the joy he’d lost. Faced with hard choices and unspeakable loss, they draw strength from each other to overcome the horrors of their pasts, and in the process find redemption, forgiveness, and ultimately love.
For weeks I saw Pieces of Sky recommended by several blogs I use to follow. The story but specially the setting immediately aroused my curiosity.
Jessica Thornton left in a hurry her beloved home in England to join her brother in New Mexico. Traveling by stagecoach, she looks completely out of place and this doesn't escape the notice of the other passengers. If she seems all fashionable and delicate, this young woman is a spitfire heroine. Jessica seems to have lead a somehow sheltered life until the attack of her brother-in-law but she doesn't hesitate to leave everything behind to start a new life in a completely different country where everything seems wild and confusing to her. When she starts to think that her decision might be a mistake, she meets Brady Wilkins a local rancher who clearly doesn't understand what a woman like her is doing in the West.
After so many years involved in a family feud, fighting, killing and suffering, Brady Wilkins steeled himself against any feeling except revenge. A man marked by tragedy whose only worry is his brothers' safety. He carries a very heavy burden with him, one he knows he will never be able to share with anyone. Brady doesn't seek happiness or tries to build a life for himself until he meets the pregnant and quick-witted Jessica.
These two learn how to heal themselves slowly and together. It was heartwarming to see them to get to know each other and how a simple smile or just a look can do wonderful things to a damaged soul. The scenes after the birth were filled with angst and sorrow and I confess that I fell in love with Brady watching him bring Jessica alive again.
If the book is mostly about Brady and Jessica, everyone has its place in it. The characters are strong and yet very real. It's easy to identify ourselves with them and I could perfectly see myself among the Wilkins family and friends sharing a dinner laughing and teasing. But they also make mistakes and try to make the best out of it, even when all hope seems lost. The interaction between the brothers are some of my favorite scenes and I can't wait to read more about Hank and Jack.
One of my favorite parts of this book is how vividly Ms Warner describes the life in the West without romanticizing it. It was tough, sometimes dangerous but also held the promise of an opportunity to start all over again.
Kaki Warner's storytelling talent is obvious from the first pages. She gently invites you to take part of an incredible and quite unexpected ride filled with beautiful and striking scenes that will remain in your memory longtime after you read the last words of Pieces of Sky. It's going to be hard to wait until June...