A Lady Like Sarah. By Margaret Brownley. (A Rocky Creek Romance). 2009. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages.
Vultures signaled trouble ahead..
"She's an outlaw. He's a preacher. Both are in need of a miracle."
That's how it's described on the back cover. I must admit I was a little skeptic heading into this one. Would it be 'too western' for me? After all, it is set in the 1870s and it does feature an outlaw or two?! But my worries went away after I began reading.
The book stars the frustrated but good-intentioned preacher, Justin Wells, and the scared-and-somewhat-embittered outlaw, Sarah Prescott. It was not love at first sight.
When he first stumbles across Sarah, she's handcuffed. The U.S. marshal escorting her back to the Texas town of Rocky Creek has been shot and is in very poor condition. Justin not yet knowing that the prisoner is really a she promises the marshal to take "the prisoner" on to Texas, to see justice done, to take a message to the marshal's family. But can he keep his promise after he knows....
After he knows that "the prisoner" is a woman? She may not be dressed as one. She may not act like one, a lady, I mean. But she is woman through and through. And after hearing her side of the story, after hearing about her troubled past, after hearing her declare her innocence and after hearing about the mockery of a trial that condemned her to hang, after he's come to believe her...how can he keep that promise now? When he knows that there is a very good possibility--that she will hang. Can he live with having her her death on his hands?
She stared at the manacles in his hands and wondered what he saw when he looked at her. Did he see an outlaw or someone else--the woman whose heart suddenly yearned to be held by a man? By him? Cheeks aflame, she looked up.Head lowered, he reached for her hand, but before cuffing her, he hesitated.She searched his face and he met her gaze. She wanted him to look at her like she had seen her brothers look at other women. But anything would be better than the pity she saw in his eyes.Look at me, she wanted to cry. Look at me. Without thinking, she threw her arms around his neck. If he was surprised, she couldn't tell. For his lips melted against hers, sending waves of heat down her body. His mouth on hers was both gentle and demanding, sweet and warm, and more than anything, persuasive. She drank in the moment, wishing it would last forever.Great sand and sagebrush! How come no one ever told her that kissin' a man was even more fun than fightin' a bear? She'd heard tell about this man and woman stuff, but no one ever said it felt this good, felt so completely and utterly right.The kiss ended far too soon. One hand on her shoulder, he firmly pushed her away. The mouth that moments earlier had been soft and yielding was now hard and unrelenting. No pity showed in his eyes now. Only rejection...and, somehow, that was even worse.Her senses in turmoil, she didn't know what to think. She wondered if she had only imagined his response, imagined that he welcomed her kiss.Confused as much by her own actions as his, she stared up at him."I'm sorry, Sarah."She couldn't have felt more humiliated had she been thrown from a horse.For the longest while, they stared at each other like two wild animals meeting by chance."Forgive me," he pleaded. "I can't do this."Had he thrust a knife in her heart, he couldn't have hurt her more. "Because of who I am?" she lashed out at him. "Because I'm a wanted woman and not fit to wipe your feet?"He shook his head sadly. "No, Sarah. Because of who I am." (48-49)
Sarah isn't just Sarah. She's Sarah Prescott. Her brothers are "the Prescott brothers." A no-good robbing gang that go about holding up as many "Wells Fargo" wagons as they can. She doesn't like her brothers, but she loves them. She can't forget that she is--like it or not--a Prescott.
Justin Wells knows just a little about being falsely accused, although he doesn't have a criminal record, his rushed exit from Boston, his reassignment to a little Texas town he's never heard of--Rocky Creek--is not particularly of his choosing. He doesn't feel led to minister here. So he's a bit confused as well as to where he belongs and what he wants and needs.
Together can these two come to trust God, in his will? Will justice be served?
A Lady Like Sarah is a compelling story, a historical romance. The pacing was great. I was always wanting more, more, more. I couldn't put it down. It was enjoyable. It was satisfying. It was good.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews