Mass Market Paperback, 493 pages
Published July 1st 1995
My Rating: ❀❀❀❀
Genre: Historical Romance
"I accepted you as payment on a gambling table, because you're incredibly beautiful, and I want you for the same reason."
His smoldering gaze claimed her long before a poker hand made her his. Tara Brent knew she could never escape this dark and brooding stranger who promised her safety, with a price: marriage and life together in the lush, lethal wilderness of Florida. She didn't even know his name, only the promise of passion, and refuge in his arms.
Jarrett McKenzie swept his ravishing bride away from New Orleans to his remote Florida plantation, determined to uncover the desperate secret from which she ran. He couldn't tell her of his own Seminole roots—or open her guarded heart—until his former commander, President Andrew Jackson, declared war on the Indians, and a powerful enemy from Tara's past found his way to their door.
I ran across this title a few months back and I have been yearning to read it for a while. It was a wonderful read, the setting was lush and beautiful and the characters were raw and headstrong. There was an element of mystery to Tara's past--we know she is innocent of murder, but that's all we know. It was interesting to learn more about it and realize that she wasn't such a woman of mystery after all.
Tara's character was headstrong, passionate and somewhat willful. I really liked her. She was also proud in ways, but it was wonderful seeing her develop empathy towards her native neighbours and to grow to realize that people are all people, regardless of race. Tara goes through a lot in this book. She's on the run, hiding her past from her husband, jealous of Jarrett's dead wife, attacked on more than one occasion and than forced to part ways with Jarrett's family, who she has come to think of as her own.
Jarrett is a character that I can only describe as commanding. He doesn't give Tara a lot of explanations as to what is happening in the war, or about his reasons to his neutral position. Some readers might think him of as something of a tyrant, but I thought of Jarrett as equally strong willed as Tara, and for that reason found that they fit nicely together. Even though they constantly bicker, he fully acknowledges to himself that Tara evokes strong emotion within him, and it's clear that it's more than just her body that he desires. Which is what I loved about them as a couple, they are both deeply passionate. And I'll admit that I'm sucker when it comes to passionate characters.
This was a solid four stars, set during a time period not often explored, with a strong plot line and wonderful characters. I can't wait to read more of this series.