Monday, September 20, 2010

Review: Sunrise Over Texas

Sunrise Over Texas
MJ Frederick

Western Historical Romance/Texas/1826

Carina Press/September 2010

Received from Carina Press/NetGalley

From the publisher's website ~

Texas Frontier, 1826

Kit Barclay followed her husband into the wilds of Texas only to be widowed. Stranded with her mother- and sister-in-law to care for, with no hope of rescue before winter sets in, Kit has only one goal: survival. So when a lone horseman appears on the horizon, and then falls from his mount in fever, Kit must weigh the safety of her family against offering aid and shelter to the handsome stranger.

Trace Watson has lost everything that ever mattered to him. Trying to forget, he heads to the frontier colony of San Felipe, not caring if he lives or dies. But when he wakes to discover he's being nursed back to health by a brave young widow, he vows to repay her kindness by guiding the three women back to civilization, no matter what the cost.

Soon, Kit and Trace are fighting the elements, Indian attacks and outlaws—as well as feelings they both thought were long buried. . .

Historical westerns are not as common as they used to be but to have one set in Pre-Civil War America is even more rare. I loved the fact that this is set in 1826. This is a rustic frontier where people were scattered far and wide. Where women were few and the land was a harsh and dangerous place. Fredrick doesn't sugar coat the hardships that are faced on the frontier. Nor does she downplay the importance of the will to survive. It's that will to survive that gets Kit and Trace through some of the most difficult times of their lives.

Katherine "Kit" Barclay is barely surviving. She's stuck at Fort Dryden with only her mother-in-law and sister-in-law for company. The responsibility for their welfare has fallen to her. It's been a rough time since Kit left her home in Louisiana for the Texas frontier. Her husband is dead and now she and her in-laws are running out of food and in real danger of dying. I liked Kit right off. I liked her quiet strength, her intelligence and her compassion. When she rescues Trace, all she wants is to get him healthy and on his way. There are no others at the fort and Trace makes her nervous. Trace has other ideas. He can't leave the women alone at the fort and he knows their only chance of survival is to make it to San Felipe.

Oh, Trace. He is such a tortured hero. He's lost the people that meant the most to him and he's still grieving when he arrives at the remote fort. He's running from his memories and runs right into Kit. Trace is sick with a fever when he arrives at the fort. He barely makes it and needs Kit's help. Trace is what I'd like to think of as a frontier gentleman. He's kind, courteous but he's also alpha enough to take charge when he needs to. When it came to Kit, he knew he had to get her to leave the fort but he didn't just order her to go. He talked to her, yes, talked to her and by talking with Kit, Trace understood why Kit didn't want to leave. He treated her like the intelligent woman she was and used logic and reason to get her to go to San Felipe.

Kit and Trace's relationship wasn't rushed in that they began sharing little bits and pieces of themselves, allowing each other to get to know them. Sunrise Over Texas isn't a long book, 194 pages, and still the way their relationship developed it felt solid - with both Trace and Kit having a say in the decisions. Neither is used to the frontier, they are both from New Orleans, but they learn how to survive together. Their is one scene when they are under attack and it turns out that Kit is the better shot. I liked that Trace wasn't this perfect frontier man and Kit could teach him a thing or two. :)

The journey to the colony of San Felipe is a hard one and tests both Kit and Trace. It doesn't help that Kit's in-laws are even less accustomed to frontier life and have to be pushed to do their share. Agnes, Kit's mother-in-law disapproves of how close Kit and Trace have gotten and Mary, Kit's sister-in-law is a teenager who admires Kit but had very little survival instincts. Seriously, Kit put up with a lot of crap from these two. They tried Trace's patience too. Once they get to the settlement, they have to make some very tough decisions. This is where we see how loyal and compassionate Kit is. And how much Trace loves Kit. I was surprised at the turn the story took but think the author handled it well.

Towards the end, there is a misunderstanding that both Trace and Kit have to get past which seemed a little too contrived. After everything they had been through, trust shouldn't have been an issue. It was just a little bump in the story and didn't take away from the enjoyment of a romance about two people who overcome their suffering and find love again. If you're looking for a western romance with a frontier setting, this is it.

Rating: A-


  1. Looks like Carina Press has been scoring high with you lately, Leslie!

  2. Wasn't this one a delight? I was really impressed with how good the story was considering it wasn't a regular length novel.
    I agree with you that both Kit and Trace were very likeable and well developed characters.

  3. Christine ~ Carina press is putting out some really good reads. They have a lot of variety too.

    Kristie ~ There was a of story for just under 200 pages. It definitely felt complete.