This is an intriguing and fascinating historical romance set in the early 1900's, beginning briefly in Pretoria, South Africa, and then travelling to Marshall, Texas where much of the story takes place. This story spotlights two swarthy, handsome, and sometimes cocky treasure hunters; a pretty, young woman leaving home for the first time to work as a governess in Marshall; an unusual and challenging boy of five years; and swindling ruthless villains who get more emboldened and dangerous as the story progresses. These and other various interesting and extremely likeable characters all possess incredible character depth in this story!
I loved experiencing the camaraderie and banter between Pearson Foster and best mate Theo, who are the story's treasure hunters. Pearson, having his heart set on searching for the shipwrecked steamer, Mittie Stephens, and her cargo of gold, ends up travelling to Caddo Lake with Theo to take up their search there.
Not long after arriving, Pearson first encountered Adelina (Addie) McRae upon her arrival in nearby Marshall with her mother, having just arrived there for the position of Cedric's (Ceddy's) governess. And from the very beginning the atmosphere between Pearson and Addie was electric! Addie found Pearson discomforting and yet intriguing, infuriating yet titillating, with odd hair yet handsome! I longed for more encounters between these two and I wasn't disappointed. The captivating and intense energy between these two leading characters continued throughout.
I also absolutely adored Ceddy, Addie's young charge, an unusual boy who was orphaned from his missionary parents and now living with his Aunt Priscilla in Marshall. He is actually autistic but because Autism wasn't a diagnosed condition back then, Ceddy was frightening at times, and his confronting behavior difficult for people to understand and accept. Having an autistic child myself, I was so impressed at how Marcia managed to portray this little autistic boy so insightfully and realistically. And I deeply felt little Ceddy's engulfing fear each time he saw or encountered the villains Denny and Charlie, as they attempted to get to him and his own personal secret treasure.
Hunter's Prize also explores the theme of communication... or lack thereof, and the resulting consequences. But then there's also a gentle but compelling message about finding your way back to God after a terrible tragedy and learning to trust in Him again.
This book is the third in the Backwoods Brides series, but can very much be read as a stand-alone book... although I hasten to add, you'd really be doing yourself a dis-service to miss out on Marcia's other two brilliant stories in the series!
Marcia Gruver tells a story that keeps you reading, and even when you're not, it will cause you to think about it... until you give in and pick it up again!!
lIn this book three of Marcia's series Backwoods Brides, she takes us from the dusty ox trails of Pretoria, South Africa to the unpredictable weather of Marshall, Texas, to introduce us to a beautiful and challenging child by the name of Cedric Whitfield. Ceddy's parents were missionaries to Africa that were recently killed, so Ceddy finds himself being transported back to the States to live with a spinster great-aunt, Priscilla Whitfield. Too bad no one realizes the evil that will follow dear little Ceddy all the way home.
When Priscilla realizes that Ceddy is going to be more than she can handle, she writes to an old friend in hopes that his granddaughter will come to live with her to be Ceddy's governess.
Knowing his granddaughter can't take the position Dr. Thomas Mooney forwards the letter from Miss Whitfield to Addie McRae. Addie feels this is a job for her, as she has a way with children. Little does she know this will be a life changing experience for her.
When Addie and her mother arrive in Marshall they bump into two young men, Pearson Foster and Theodoro Bernardi, who are determined to help them with their bags. Addie is appalled to hear her mother accept the young men's invitation to lunch. While eating Addie finds it hard to keep her eyes off Pearson, he is very handsome and there is something about him that appeals to her, but is he as good as her mother feels he is?
When Addie meets Ceddy for the first time, she realizes he has more problems than she feels she can handle, but her mother persuades Addie to stay for a while and try to help him. After a short time Addie begins to see an improvement in Ceddy's disposition, until one afternoon he comes up missing and when they find him they discover a cut on his throat and various bruises on him. Who would dare to harm a child, especially one a sweet as Ceddy? Could the person be someone they know?
Pearson Foster, treasure hunter, feels he has finally found the girl of his dreams, if only she would return his feelings. But through a misunderstanding Addie believes Pearson is not worth wasting her time on. How will he persuade her that there is more to him than just an opportunist looking for treasure? When Pearson shows up at the same church as Addie, Priscilla and Ceddy attend will they see he really is a sincere person? When Priscilla allows him into her home will something happen that makes her change her mind about him and will she be horrified to think he may not be as harmless as she thought? When the evil that has followed Ceddy from halfway around world finally shows up will Pearson be the one who will lead it straight to Ceddy or will he be the one who will rescue Ceddy from it?
I was intrigued by the way Marcia described Ceddy's autism, which back then had not been named, and the way Addie interacted with Ceddy. I also loved the descriptions of the area where Pearson was searching for the treasure. This is the first book I have read in this series and now I want to go back and read the others. Thank you Marcia, a job well done!
I was given an Arc from the publisher and NetGally in exchange for my honest opinion.
A story of treasures of the greatest kind - love from the heart.
Addie's Mom loves her enough to let go and leave her with Pricella as a governess to Ceddy.
Pearson loved his family so much he guarded his heart. He struggled with forgiving himself for living when he lost them all. But he found his way back to God's love and as a a bonus found Addie's love.
Ceddy showed him where real treasure was. He feel in love with the little guy. Ceddy gives up his diamond to save Addie's pendant because of his love for her.
A story of love and forgivenss like none I've read. It's coupled with adventure and treasures of the heart.
Since Addie is old enough to leave her family, she is ecstatic when she is passed a letter from a friend requesting a teacher to move to Texas to care for a special child. Today, such a child has a diagnosis of Autistic. Addie has never seen a child with such problems, and it takes all her skills to deal with Ceddy Whitfield. Addie relies on the Lord to help her help Ceddy.
Ceddy Whitfield's parents learned to handle his issues, but when they are killed in an accident, he moves to Texas to live with an elderly aunt. Before leaving South Africa, he picks up a diamond. A couple of evil men realize that Ceddy is holding a valuable diamond in the rough, so they track him to Texas to steal it from him.
Pearson Foster's family drowned in the hurricane in Galveston in 1900, since then he has drifted through life as a fortune hunter. He moves to Lake Caddo, near Marshall, Texas, to find the wreck of the Mittie Stephens. Pearson, Addie, and Ceddy lives cross in East Texas, along with villains, townfolk, and Ceddy's great aunt. Fun, engaging read for those who enjoy historical Christian romances.
Marcia Gruver in her new book, "Hunter's Prize" Book Three in the Backwoods Brides series published by Barbour Publishing Inc. takes us to Texas in 1904.
From the back cover: A little boy's treasure puts Addie McRae's life in grave danger.
When Addie left her sheltered Mississippi life to become a governess to Ceddy Whitfield, she never dreamed she'd be undertaking her most challenging role yet. But after a brutal attack on her peculiar charge and a break-in that threatens the serenity Whitfield Manor, Addie's coveted new life is on a dangerous course. What could a little boy have that thieves are so eager to find?
Pearson Foster arrives on the misty banks of Lake Caddo determined to haul up the wreckage of the doomed steamer Mittie Stephens along with her cargo of gold, unaware that young Ceddy hides a valuable treasure of his own. Then, accused of a terrible act of cruelty against the boy, Pearson stands to lose something even more precious than hidden fortune. But would he harm a child and the woman he grows to love in his quest for mere riches?
Pearson is a treasure hunter, Ceddy has a treasure that others a looking for and Addie looks to Pearson to help protect both her and the boy. "Hunter's Prize" is great fun to read. It is a nice romance and, while it takes place in 1904, it is relevant. This book is all about communication and how badly we can mess it up. The boy is Autistic and cannot communicate which leads to certain events, Pearson can communicate but he lands in trouble anyway. There is the theme of treasure and finding the greatest treasure of them all. Ms. Gruver has a great way of telling the story and moving it along at a nice pace. Her characters are wonderful and she gives them life and unique voices. I liked this book a lot and it was a fitting ending to this trilogy. Well done.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing Inc. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."