I've been eagerly anticipating this novel since I read the first one in this series, Summer of Promise, and I was not disappointed. Waiting for Spring can be read as a stand-alone as it takes place in a different setting and time than the first novel, but I predict it will make you want to read her sister's story in the first book! However you choose to read it, this is a not-to-be-missed novel! Amanda Cabot creates characters that practically step off the page. Although Charlotte could be rather annoying in the first novel, hardship and loss have matured her, and I longed for her to find happiness and a safe haven. Cheyenne, Wyoming in its early days provides a setting that vacillates between the rugged Wild West and a more settled and civilized community. A bit of danger and suspense add to this delightful read.
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In the second of her Westward Winds trilogy, Amanda Cabot writes about Charlotte, the eldest and most fragile of three sisters. A widow with a baby boy, Charlotte must find work to support herself, so she turns to her one marketable talent - dressmaking - which puts her in contact with a number of Cheyenne's elite, including the handsome and politically-aspiring Barrett Landry. Unfortunately, a villain with whom her dead husband had tangled is still looking for Charlotte to exact revenge.
Charlotte seems almost like a different person from the character in Summer of Promise, in which she was a little more frivolous, flightier, and markedly more social (when not done in by anxiety). In this novel she is quite sedate, partly I'm sure from trying to keep from drawing attention to herself and attracting the Baron, and partly from the stress of running a business and mothering a blind baby. She seems more like a scared version of her practical sister Abigail than the animated young wife she was at Fort Laramie. I would have liked her to retain that liveliness and propensity towards ups-and-downs, since it would have felt more like the same character.
Like in Summer of Promise, Cabot does an excellent job of developing a solid, healthy relationship between the main characters. By juxtaposing an example of an unhealthy relationship where they merely go through the motions - Barrett and Miriam - next to a solid relationship where friendship and genuine love (not just a calculated show) are developed over time - Barrett and Charlotte - the healthy relationship stands out all the more. In more minor roles are the romances between Miriam and Richard and between Gwen and Warren, which again underscore what builds a healthy relationship and what can doom one. (Even looking past the psycho murderer aspect, which is uncommon in the general way of things, Gwen and Warren's relationship is developed in an unhealthy way).
I like the length of the novel, which allows several plot lines to be developed properly without being rushed, especially Barrett's struggles to get out of the shadow of his older brothers' success, which results in becoming a cattle baron, running for political office, and eventually finding what he truly loves to do. The story felt a little more oppressive than I would have preferred, probably because both the main characters are under a lot of stress and have a hard time feeling free to be themselves, so I did not enjoy it as much as the first book in the series, but it was still an enjoyable read. 4 out of 5 stars
Amanda Cabot is an author who knows how to write deep characters with intense issues. She grabs your heart from the very first page and doesn't let go until the end. It takes courage to love and Amanda knows just how to help her characters face their fears in order to have a joyous life. Read this book!
Waiting for Spring, book 2 in Amanda Cabot's Westward Winds series, can compellingly stand alone, but it does continue the story of Charlotte Harding Crowley. Widowed Madame Charlotte, a talented clothing designer and seamstress has opened a shop in Cheyenne, where she lives with her toddler son, David. She tries to keep her past hidden as well as hoping to remain hidden from "the baron," who seems to think she knows where an outlaw's stash might be.
One thing Charlotte has trouble hiding are her growing feelings for wealthy cattleman Barrett Landry, who appears to be courting one of her best customers and friends, Miriam Taggert. Pressured by his friends to enter the senate race in the soon-rising state of Wyoming, Barrett appears convinced the influential newspaper owner's daughter would be his best choice for a wife. But does his heart affirm the decision?
Horrible winter weather, water issues, cattle catastrophes, and financial struggles add to the drama, as well as the threat posed by the ruthless madman, the baron. All the major characters discover new insights as they face these trials. Charlotte comes to understand: "How wrong she had been! Asking for help was a sign of weakness, or so she had thought. _ She had been wrong. So very wrong. She had been so blind that she hadn't realized that by struggling to do everything herself, she was depriving others of the opportunity to be needed." (page 317)
The first book in the series, Summer of Promise, is another great read, and the third book, With Autumn's Return, will be coming out in January 2014.