This review refers to "The Rivals" by Joan Johnston...
This is the 5th in the Bitter Creek series. The stories of the modern day descendants of the Sister of the Lone Star series("Frontier Woman", "Comanche Woman", and "Texas Woman"). The last we knew, the Blackthornes had made an attempt at ending their long running feud with the Creeds,but... they still are at odds with the Grayhawks(this was the first I read about them, but I intend on picking up some of the books with their back story as well). Although the first 4 books in this series will fill you in on the Blackthorne/Creed feud,and the various Romeo and Juliet type lovers, it is really not necessary to have read them all to enjoy this one. The character of Drew Dewitt, a cousin to the Blackthornes, and one of the major characters in this story gets his start in the 4th in the series "The Price", but even so the plot of this one stands on it's own.
Having said all of that, I have to say that I enjoyed this one very much.Maybe it was because this one was packed with adventures and mystery(which is a big draw for me), and although you know with Johnston there will be the steamy love sequences(also a draw), they were there, only not too too steamy and they seemed to take a back seat to the rest of the plot.
Kate Grayhawk, teenaged granddaughter of two very powerful men, King Grayhawk of Wyoming, and "Blackjack" Blackthorne of Texas, is kidnapped. Not only is she the granddaughter of these two wealthy powerhouses but she is also the secret daughter of Clay Blackthorne, Attorney General(the reader is privy to this early on). The local Deputy Sheriff Kate Barndollar gets involved in the search, and happens to be a beautiful woman raising three kids on her own. Drew Dewitt, rich, playboy cousin of the Blackthornes, is also on hand to help with the search. The mystery of why Kate was kidnapped, combined with some very menacing characters, the search in the snowy mountains with avalanches looming, and the ever daring and mischievous adventures of Sarah's young kids kept me turning the pages.I found it a little strange at first, that the women could think of making love while the children where missing, but the I think the tense and frightening situations, combined with ex-lovers and Drew and Sarah being thrown together with a passion, leads to them finding comfort in each other's arms(and beds).
It's a great follow up to Drew's story, and a nice little escape for a while. Adventure, mystery, suspense, and passion.If you are interested in the the others in this series and want to start at the beginning, you can either start with the Sisters of the Lone Star(adventures and passion in the old west) mentioned above, or the modern day Bitter Creek series, which include "The Cowboy", "The Texan","The Loner", and "The Price"(in order of events).
As always a most enjoyable read from Joan Johnston.Here is a large print edition:The Rivals Large Print
Next up in the series is The Next Mrs. Blackthorne: A Bitter Creek Novel, the rest of Clay Blackthorne's story.Also if you are lucky you may be able to find:Bittercreek Set of Six - The Cowboy - The Texan - Loner - Price - Next Mrs. Blackthorn - Rivalsfrom an outside seller and pay only one time for shipping
Enjoy the read...Laurie