Marcia Gruver has crafted another masterpiece of a book in Bandit's Hope; a tale of love, forgiveness, greed, and deceit, in 19th century Mississippi. Mariah Bell is a beautiful half Choctaw woman, and owner and proprietess of Bell's Inn, a place that she has promised her deceased mother to never give up. In keeping that promise, Mariah becomes a harborer of a very dark secret, that if revealed, threatens her very relationship with all those she loves. Tiller McRae lands on the doorstep of Bell's Inn in need of shelter for a few days, and Mariah hires him as a handyman to perform long overdue repairs on the inn.
Tiller, a product of an unjust childhood, ran away from home ten years ago with his friend, Nathan, and winds up in more trouble than he can handle; a life of an outlaw and a swindler, but a life that he is tired of and willing to give up for the beautiful Mariah. But if she finds out of his secret past, will she have him?...especially when two very handsome Choctaw Indian braves, and a childhood friend are all vying for Mariah's hand as well? And when a severely injured Otis Gooch is brought to the inn to be nursed back to health, what secret does he hold, that terrifies Tiller to the core, should the elderly man ever regain his memory and reveal it? And who steals Mariah away and why, and will she be rescued before it's too late?
I absolutely loved this tale, with its wonderful characters, twists and turns, and page turning excitement! Marcia Gruver is a master storyteller, who laces her novels with rich Southern humor (I loved Otis Gooch!) to offset the dark times her characters face. With a strong spiritual thread of love and forgiveness throughout, this book is a must read! Although Raider's Heart is the first book in the Backwoods Brides Series, Ms. Gruver does a good job of recapping so that it may be read as a stand alone, although I highly recommend them both. Nicely done!
This book was sent to me by Barbour Publishing and I was not required to give a positive review.
Reddick "Tiller" McRae left his uncles home ten years ago with Nathan Carter. Tiller and Nathan rode with two other fellows in the gang. Tiller's boyish and innocent looks were used to get travelers trust and when their defenses were down, the others would jump in and rob them. On this particular day, with this particular old fellow, Tiller felt a change. It no longer felt right. He tried to get the man to leave but it was too late. The others rode in. And as always Tiller took off like an innocent, only he realized this day that he was as guilty as the rest, maybe more so.
Mariah Coffee Bell just buried her father, only she did not tell anyone he passed. She needed to marry first so she could hold the land. She promised her Choctaw mother that she would hold onto the land, right before her mother died two years ago. She would keep Bell's Inn running. She would marry. She had Miss Vee, Dicey & Rainy to help her continue on. Most people accepted Mariah, others considered her a half breed squaw.
Tiller came to stay at Bell's Inn. While there some men brought in Otis Gooch, the man the gang had attacked. Mariah and Miss Vee had asked him to stay on and fix things up and in return he had free room and board, when he seen Otis he felt his time there was short. Otis was hit hard on the head though and did not remember. So instead Tiller helped care for the older man.
As time passes Tiller starts to care for Mariah and knows he must one day tell of his past. Mariah hurts whenever her father is mentioned. She knows Miss Vee cared for her father and deserves to grieve for him rather than believe he was somewhere else being cared for. They survive a tornado, lack of funds, a kidnapping and even her Uncle Joe who is determined to take her back with him and have her marry the chiefs son, Uncle Joe had been trying to bring her back to the tribe since her mother's death. This book is full of love and adventure.
Mariah, new owner of Bells Inn is in search of a husband but others believe they hold her choice. Reddick (Tiller) McRae has other things in mind than being with his ruthless gang members. Tired of running, Tiller is caught in a storm landing him on the doorstep of Bells Inn. He is quickly made welcome by the Inns workers and for Tiller bidding time seems the best solution yet. A search operation turns up more than is expected.
The second in a series, of which I have read the first, has as much charm and personality, but can easily be a stand alone novel as well. With the introduction of new characters, Otis and Miss Vee, for example, added to the storyline, I was really drawn to them, along with my old favorites made this quite an enjoyable and fulfilling read! I always expect to have a great time when I read one of Mrs. Gruver's novels and this one did not disappoint. Excellent character development and dialogue the novel flowed well and I connected with the characters right away. The book held my interest and did not have any dull parts. Excellent! I would definately recommend this book to others.