WINNING MAURA’S HEART
The Hangman’s Daughters Series, Book # 1
Western Romance / Clean & Wholesome / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Severn House
Date of Publication: March 7, 2023
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Maura Taggart is an outcast, the daughter of a hangman and tainted by association – no reputable man wants her as his wife. And now she is homeless, along with her sister and the group of children in their care. Armed with pure grit, she finds a nearby mission where the nuns agree to take them in and set up an orphanage. But trouble is just around the corner . . .
The Calhoun brothers are identical twins but on opposite sides of the law. Cutter is a deputy Marshal, Jonas an outlaw. When Cutter attempts to break his brother out of a notorious gang, they are shot, and Maura finds one of them wounded, close to the mission – but which brother is it?
As the stranger regains his strength under Maura’s care an attraction between them grows, yet how far can she trust him? And why has he brought trouble to their door? With the orphanage under threat can Maura trust this handsome stranger both with their safety and with her heart?
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Winning Maura’s Heart is a terrific first book in a new series by Linda Broday. Billed as a Western Romance, I really liked that the Western elements took center stage. Not that there isn’t romance. The attraction between the stranger and Maura builds slowly, letting the reader get to know both of them as the story evolves.
The mystery of which brother survived the shoot-out is deftly handled, and there were enough clues dropped into the story to keep the reader guessing. There were times I wondered, “Really? Could it be?” It’s hard to say any more about the romantic elements without a spoiler, but readers will find the resolution most satisfying.
Maura and her sister have had a hard life up to this point, and it gets worse right after they’ve nursed people through an outbreak of yellow fever in San Antonio, Texas. No longer needed for a job nobody else wanted, the townspeople drive Maura and Emma out of town, and they take a group of children orphaned by the epidemic to an old Spanish mission now being used by French nuns. The Sisters welcome the children and help Maura and Emma care for them, with the assistance of their Uncle Max when he is sober enough. Max is drinking to try to forget his own problems, but he does have a good side, which Maura recognizes and attempts to foster.
Winning Maura’s Heart starts with an emotional hook that doesn’t let go as the story evolves. The two sisters face intense cruelty at the hands of others and so many challenges as they attempt to hold their band of children together. All of the characters are deftly drawn and so likeable. Well, except for the gang members who come looking for the loot that the brothers stole from them.
This is a story of grit and determination, as well as faith and compassion. Even though life has been so hard for Maura and Emma, they don’t let that harden their hearts. They are always willing to help those in need, and the reader knows that from the opening of the story when they are in the throes of the epidemic. Then we meet the Calhoun brothers in an action-packed attempt to get Jonah out of the gang, and we think both brothers are dead until Maura finds the dying man near the mission and nurses him back to health.
The plot flows from one element to another seamlessly and so many parts of the book reminded me of my favorite Westerns from Zane Grey and others who’ve penned great novels about the Old West. Broday definitely knows the genre and does detailed research to bring the mid-1800s alive. I highly recommend the read.
I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of western romance novels and short stories. Watching TV westerns during my youth fed my love of cowboys and the old West and they still do. On a still day, I can often hear the voices of American Indians, Comancheros, and early cowboys whispering in the breeze here on the high West Texas plains. We refer to this land as “cowboy” country and men here still ride the range just as cowboys of old. My stories focus on family life and almost all have children.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
GRAND PRIZE: tote including signed copy of Winning Maura’s Heart, strawberry & chocolate tea, Cowgirl hand lotion, bath bombs, personalized cup;
2nd Prize: eBook copy Winning Maura’s Heart;
3rd Prize: $15 Amazon gift card
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/14/23)
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