England-born Emmaline Bradford pledged her life to Geoffrey Garrett and then bid him farewell when he sailed to America. Although Geoffrey anticipated only a short separation, several years passed before he was able to send for Emmaline. By then the fiery flame of her youthful love had all but died. Shocked by the conditions on Geoffrey’s Kansas sheep ranch, Emmaline wishes to return to England immediately. Geoffrey offers a compromise: If Emmaline promises to stay until spring, he’ll pay her return fare if she decides to go back to her home country. When spring arrives, will Emmaline return to England, or will she marry Geoffrey and carve out a life with him in Kansas?
While this is not my favourite book of the series, it is worth persevering with. The only thing that stopped me from engaging with the characters immediately was Emmaline’s sheltered naivety. It was initially difficult for me to like her. I found it hard to understand how she could set off on this journey to America, knowing that she was meant to marry Geoffrey, having been in love with him once, only to arrive and refuse to go through with it. It’s not as if he was a complete stranger to her. It seemed to me that she was very juvenile in her approach to her circumstances – perhaps too juvenile for a twenty-two year old woman. Her continual rebellion at the beginning of the novel grew tiring after her second attempt at leaving Chetwynd Valley.
That being said, I ended up enjoying the novel and I’m glad I persevered. Both characters mature into likeable, engaging people, who both carry the story to its satisfying conclusion. I would have liked to have seen Geoffrey open up about his own insecurities to Emmaline (especially considering he is just as culpable in their initial misunderstandings as she is) but by the last page, I had accepted the fact that he hadn’t done so and I didn’t dwell on it. I would recommend this book by saying that the ending is well worth persevering with the beginning.