I wasn't sure I would like a book about outlaws kidnapping a young woman, but this book was so much more than that. It's about love, forgiveness, and not judging others, when we have no idea what they have been through. Dawsey Wilkes is kidnapped by the McRae family, who you would classify more as "Robin Hood" type vigilantes than outlaws. Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, and "outlaw" or not, who doesn't like Robin?
I didn't like these outlaws at first, and of course, neither does Dawsey. When Dawsey is brought to their home in the Carolina swamps she is met with a surprise that changes her whole life! This book is filled with surprises, twists, and turns, that once I got into it, I found it hard to put down. I read it alot more slowly than I do most books, however, because of the detail that the author goes into, and I didn't want to miss a thing.
I unwillingly fell in love with this "outlaw" family, and so does Dawsey, and it leaves her to question her opulent lifestyle and what makes a person really happy. She had never experienced the warmth and love between family members such as displayed by the McRaes, who had so much less material wise. Both brothers fall for her, and my favorite aspect of this book was not knowing what was going to happen next or who Dawsey would end up with.
This was a very exciting book with nonstop action! Like I said, I loved the element of surprise and am looking forward to the next book in the series! One word of warning, there is some violence, but the author does not get too graphic. The epilogue brings forth another startling revelation... one that upset me (and caused me to judge this family again)...and really made me examine myself! Ouch!
Loved it, Marcia, and am anxiously awaiting the next book from your publisher! Thank you for the opportunity to review this book.
Living a life of luxury in a blossoming North Carolina town, Dawsey Wilkes does not suspect that the root of her family's problems is hidden in the bandit-ridden backwoods. Dawsey has never questioned whether her father's mental breakdown was due to anything more than her mother's death, which left the lonely and heartbroken widower to raise infant Dawsey by himself. But when she comes across thieves in her father's study, Dawsey is literally ripped from her privileged life. She finds herself deep in the woods of Shuffletown, where one of her captors is a girl who could be her doppelganger. Could Ellie McRae hold the key to her family's troubles? And will Dawsey make it back to her father before one of Ellie's brothers wins her heart?
What sounded like a fast-paced, action-filled historical romance about bandits and imprisoned girls didn't quite meet my expectations. It wasn't until chapter thirteen that anything actually occurred to bring our hero and heroine together, and I was almost ready to give up. While I was immediately captivated by the story of Dawsey, her mentally unstable father and her guardian aunt, it took me longer to warm up to the McRae family. We're introduced to the character of Ellie - whose name isn't on the back-cover of the book, confusingly me immensely as I tried to work out who she was and why she had so much page-time - and her older brothers, Duncan and Hooper - neither of whom interested me, making me wonder why one of them would turn out to be Dawsey's love-interest. Thankfully, once Dawsey was kidnapped in chapter thirteen the story picked up the pace and was able to keep my interest.
I eventually warmed to the McRae family and they were a very endearing, entertaining bunch of characters. They explained to Dawsey why they were living in the backwoods of North Carolina, and we got a very small history lesson on the suffering that Native Americans experienced during the Civil War. At least, I think that's what they were talking about. The details were so vague that someone who hasn't studied this period of US history might not have understood the McRae's explanation. I prefer my historical romances to actually have some real history in them, rather than just having a general "historical" feel because the characters ride horses, hunt and occasionally reference a war gone by. However, I did enjoy reading about the McRae's and witnessing Dawsey's growing relationship with them. Hooper became an interesting character, but he didn't seem as fleshed out as Dawsey and Ellie. As for Duncan, he had so little page-time that I immediately suspected that he would lose the fight for Dawsey's affection. Despite this, it was still amusing to see the two brothers fight over our heroine, if a bit redundant.
Ellie got a little romantic subplot of her own, and I have to admit that at times I preferred her story to Dawsey's. My only complaint about Ellie would be her slightly awkward, unneeded discussions with Dawsey about God and prayer. Every so often, the author would chuck in a scene where Dawsey witnessed to Ellie and it felt very forced, making for uncomfortable reading. I'm not sure why the author decided to add these sections when Dawsey's faith in God was already apparent and succeeded in classifying the novel as inspirational. Other than this, Ellie and Dawsey were wonderful characters. Even if Hooper and Duncan weren't entirely convincing, the girls were, suggesting that perhaps the author needs to work on her portrayal of male characters. That said, I would be interested in reading more about Duncan and I would consider continuing this series if further books featured him and Ellie.
While I have a lot of criticisms of this book, I'll admit that it was a pleasant read and kept me entertained. Raider's Heart doesn't bring anything particularly new and original to the genre of inspirational historical romance, but readers can rely on Marcia Gruver's Backwoods Buccaneers series to provide an interesting setting, plenty of conflict, clean romance and a splash of history.
Many thanks to Barbour and NetGalley for providing this book for review purposes.
Like others, I have mixed feelings about this book. Maybe because I learned some things about myself that I'm not sure I like. What is a happy ever after ending? We can't go back and undo the things of our past. We can't. We can be forgiven, but what we did in the past may have consequences. Are some consequences more acceptable than others?
Is this book a page turner? Absolutely.
Would I recommend it to others? Yes I would.
Why? Because it will stretch you and make you think. And that is novel writing at it's best.
The author creates a unique story about two families, the McKays and the Wilkes. Distance apart from each other and so alike yet so very different. It's a story of love, heartbreak and forgiveness, of haves and have nots and the desire to be different. How the love of two young women for their families, the secret that separates them and the truth that brings them together. It's the story of a young man called Tiller who discovers love through discipline. It's a story of two brothers Hooper and Duncan vying for the attention of a young woman, complete with outlaws and gunmen woven into one very hard to put down book. Lots of twists, surprises and downhome fun await the reader in this creative easy to read novel! With characters the reader can relate to makes this a true keeper novel to reread and savor again, and a truly unforgettable novel you won't want to miss! I look forward to reading the next in this series! Thanks to Barbour Publishing for providing this ARC copy for me for my review.