I discovered Sandy James last year during a book tour of her Alliance of the Amazon series. Because of the tour, I read all 4 books in the series and fell in love with the characters. Ms. James was ever so kind enough to ask if I wanted a chance to read another one of her books, and I jumped at the chance. It has taken me awhile (sorry!) but I finally read Saving Grace, the first book in the Safe Havens Series. While the Alliance of the Amazons was more an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, the Safe Havens series is Western Historical Romance set in the wild west just before the turn of the twentieth century.
We are introduced to Grace Riley in San Francisco, as she is getting ready to confront a man who obviously terrifies her, one she has been running from for 20 years. All to get information he may have on someone named Jake Curtis. When the man, Stephen Shay, threatens to assault her, in what appears to be a repeat of a prior attack, Grace pulls a gun and shoots him in the chest. Shocked and scared, she grabs the papers and takes off, believing the monster dead.
Next we meet Grace, she is in White Pines, Montana, at the ranch of Adam Morgan, widower and ranch owner. Grace shows up in the middle of the night, in a downpour, looking for Jake Curtis. When she collapses, Adam takes her in and with the assistance of his daughter, Victoria, begins to nurse Grace back to health. While Grace is delirious with fever, she unknowingly spills most of her darkest secrets to Adam. Adam appoints himself her protector and watchdog, much to her chagrin. When Grace's younger brother shows up looking for Grace, he and Victoria clash at every opportunity and create plenty of sparks. Dark, hidden secrets will finally come to light causing pain for both Grace and Jake Curtis. But acceptance and eventual forgiveness, of self and others, will take a bit longer to achieve.
This book has some really ugly, heavy topics covered in it and runs the gamut of emotions. I especially liked that the author didn't gloss over the hardships of life during that time. So often, historicals, gives us the glamorized version of the time period. It could be a hard, dangerous life, especially for women. And yet, in many ways, we haven't come so very far that a lot of these same issues don't plague us today, making this a very relevant story. This was a very good book, though a bit draining emotionally. I really enjoyed the characters and the story. I gave it 4 stars.