Sing My Name by Ellen O'Connell
Why this one: I was blown away by her other Western (look below *g*) and when I bought Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold and saw that this one was also available in eform at Smashwords for $2.99, I took a risk and got this one at the same time. It wasn't really a risk though as the price couldn't be beat and it's a Western.
Steam Level: I could see through the mist, though there definitely is a cloud of steam
Blurb: Sarah Hammond is the overprotected daughter of passionate Massachusetts abolitionists. Matt Slade is the orphaned son of hardscrabble Texas settlers. Sarah knows about every Civil War battle from studying newspaper accounts. Matt fought in the bloodiest of them under Generals Longstreet and Lee. If Matt and Sarah ever crossed paths, it should have been for an unremarkable moment. He would tip his hat. She would nod and pass on by.
Except as survivors of a Comanche attack, Matt and Sarah spend far more than a moment together. They come to know each other, depend on each other, and love each other. The vicious revenge of Sarah’s humiliated, jilted fiance allows him to say, “I destroyed them.” Did he? Or when Matt and Sarah meet again years later, can they put their lives and their love back together?
My Thoughts: As I said, I was blown away by her first Western and when I finished it and it came to picking the next book to read it was a no-brainer that this would be the one I'd read. As with the previous book, this, THIS is the reason I love Westerns so much. This book is all that I can ask a romance to be; poignant, moving, sad with tenderly sweet funny moments. Both the hero and heroine are to die for great and as with EoS,EoG, the characters are HONEST with each other even though they may not agree.
The story starts out with Matt being mistaken for an outlaw by a couple of bounty hunters. The fact that they have the wrong guy doesn't bother them at all. It picks up after the two bounty hunters and their prisoner have joined an army wagon train heading west. Sarah is headed west to join her fiance, and army officer. She's not in love with him, but is going along with the engagement as she thinks he is better than she can expect and her parents are quite impressed with him. During their journey, she is horrified at the way Matt, our prisoner is being treated and she takes measures to make sure he is treated more humanely. Not long after this, the entire party is attacked by Indians and Matt and Sarah are the only survivors. While Sarah has lived a life of pampered luxury, Matt is well versed in how to survive and the two of them head out to try and make it to the nearest fort. As it's just the two of them, they get to know each other very well. Sarah soon realizes that Matt couldn't possibly be the criminal he was under guard for and for his part, while Matt realizes that Sarah has lead an entirely different kind of life than he has, he admires her tremendously for her 'pluck'. Along the way they fall deeply in love and while Matt is aware of the difference in their stations, he succumbs to the growing love between them. Because they spend time talking, and getting to know each other, the reader can feel the love developing between them. Unlike many a romance where the hero/heroine only have a surface knowledge before declaring their love, with Matt and Sarah, we know it's solid, but undeclared on Matt's side.
They finally make it almost to the fort where they are headed before giving in to hunger, thirst and exhaustion. When Sarah awakens, it's too a livid fiance; a fiance with power who doesn't hesitate to use it. Matt is sent to jail on trumped up charges and Sarah reputation is ruined. At this point there is a separation between them and those reader who aren't fans of long separations may be disappointed in this next section. But it didn't bother me as I was loving the story and I felt that this parting was necessary. The time focuses on Sarah and how her life is a struggle and yet she is so determined to wait for Matt no matter what obstacles are thrown in her way. It serves as a real transition time for her from a somewhat helpless young woman unsure of her own strength into a woman with loyalty, patience and, well, true grit who will survive anything.
Matt is finally released from prison and takes up with a gang of gunslingers. While they don't do anything illegal, they skirt the line at times. He believes the time is lost where he and Sarah could have made a go of it, but Sarah has never faltered in her love for Matt and when circumstances bring them together once more, she absolutely refuses to take no for an answer. I've mentioned before how I love it when a hero is gone for the hero but in this story it is Sarah who is completely gone for Matt. Obstacles? What obstacles. The only one she sees is Matt himself and simply will not take no for an answer.
Sing My Name is simply..... beautiful. It's gritty at times and not easy to read in some places but it's balance out with gently humour and a hero who no matter what life throws at him, meets it with a level headed kind of acceptance. While he had every right to be bitter and angry, he's mature enough to know that he would be the one hurt the most. Sing My Name is REAL. The characters are wonderfully written, from Matt and Sarah, both young and innocent at the start of the book, to mature and capable at the end. The secondary characters are also so very well done. The gang of men Matt is a member of come alive, two in particular. A very dear friend of Sarah betrays her and while she did it thinking it was in Sarah's best interest, there is no simple forgiveness that often drives us readers nuts.
I loved Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold but I think I love this one just a tiny bit more. I know I'll be reading both of them over and over. And I still think it's crazy that she doesn't have a contract with a NY publisher!!
Grade: 5 out of 5