Title: HEALING MONTANA SKY
Series: Montana Sky #5
Author: Debra Holland
Narrator: Natalie Ross
Format: Kindle (364 pages) / Audible (10 hours, 57 minutes)
Published: Montlake Romance (October 27, 2015)
Published: Brilliance Audio (Oct 27, 2015)
ISBN: ASIN: B00YTXTKSM (Kindle)
ISBN: ASIN: B017224M2K (Audible)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Source: NetGalley (Kindle) and Author (Audible)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Wine Glasses
After a grizzly bear kills Antonia Valleau’s trapper husband, she packs her few worldly possessions, leaves her home in the mountains of Montana, and treks to nearby Sweetwater Springs, seeking work to provide for her two young sons.
Reeling from the loss of his wife during childbirth, Erik Muth must find a nursing mother for his newborn daughter to survive. For their children’s sake, Erik and Antonia wed, starting a new life together on his farm on the prairie. But it’s no easy union. Antonia misunderstands Erik’s quiet personality. He finds her independence disconcerting. Both hide secrets that challenge their growing intimacy.
When Indians steal livestock from farms around Sweetwater Springs to feed their starving tribe, the outraged townsfolk demand retaliation. Erik and Antonia must work together to prevent a massacre. Will a marriage forged in loss blossom into love?
She stopped before the shelf of books and took one down. She'd never held a book before and reverently turned the pages, looking at the incomprehensible print and wishing she could understand the meaning of the words.
Henri drifted close to peer over her arm. "What's that?"
"A book. There be stories in here."
HEALING MONTANA SKY by Debra Holland is a realistic, emotionally intense installment in her Montana Sky series. It's always a treat to revisit Sweetwater Springs, Montana and the interesting array of characters who populate the area, many of whom I've become quite attached to, thanks to the previous books. This is the story of widow Antonia Valleau and widower Erik Muth.
Even though it is part of an ongoing series, HEALING MONTANA SKY can be fully enjoyed as a standalone as the plot and romance are fully contained within this novel. The author seamlessly fills in any information from the previous books that the reader may need to know. That holds true for any of the books in this series, so feel free to read the series in any order.
I liked both Antonia and Erik. The couple were adaptable and genuine with strong backbones - all qualities required to survive in the rugged landscape. Each of the primary characters were suffering the wrenching emotional pain involved with losing a loved one. Some sections were admittedly difficult to read, but there were plenty of bright spots to offset the sadness. There was also much wisdom to be savored in the characters' thoughts and words. While there is much sorrow in the tale, there's also positivity and the threads of a bright future. I was not depressed at the end, but hopeful for a new tomorrow.
I enjoyed catching up with my favorite characters from Sweetwater Springs in this tale including the Carters, the Thompsons with Samantha's miniature horses, and many more. Both the hero and the heroine had children and their antics with all the animals were treats. On a yuck note, Caleb Livingston and the Cobbs were their same old despicable prejudiced selves. In a way, they each provided a form of relief as they made me mad. As an example, I confess to wanting to do harm to Livingston in this scene:
Livingston looked like he'd sucked sour milk. "Surely, you don't find an Indian woman attractive?"
I can't wait for Livingston to be paired up. I hope the woman gives him the comeuppance that he richly deserves.
Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from this read:
“Mrs. Carter raised her chin. "The essence of a lady comes from within," she said in a gentle but firm tone. "A lady can wear rags, but as long as she holds her head up and carries herself proudly, people will see her, not her clothing.”
Erik's kiss was demanding, yet also patient, arousing her, as well as promising fulfillment in the future. He lifted his head and touched her heart with his forefinger. "We've been planting seeds, you and I, between us." He moved his finger from her chest to his and back again. "And with you to my daughter and me to your sons. The seeds have sprouted and are growing just fine. We need to see they are watered and the weeds kept away so they bear fruit. The harvest will come in due time when the fields are ripe and ready."
“The guilt passes?"
Jonah nodded, his eyes grave. "Mostly." He took off his hat and ran a hand through his shoulder-length blond hair. "Hard to be grieving one wife and yet developing love for another." He put his hat back on. "Confusing as all get-out."
Erik let out a slow breath, relieved to be understood. "Yes."
"You can treasure the memory of one and love the reality of the other.”
Please know that I read the first half of this book and listened to the remainder; It was an easy transition and I thoroughly enjoyed both editions. Natalie Ross returns as the amazing narrator of the audio edition. As she has for the previous books, she does a great job capturing the essence of the characters and seamlessly differentiating between them. She has a very clear and pleasing voice and, under her care, the story flows smoothly and quickly keeping listeners spellbound. Her pauses, accents and mannerisms are always appropriate.
The story was well-paced until near the very satisfactory ending when it seemed to switch to fast-paced. Please do not take any of my review as meaning that I didn't enjoy the story. It was an extremely emotional story - more so than any of Debra's other books I've read - but the tale was engrossing and I didn't want it to end. I look forward to catching up with this couple as supporting characters in ensuing books. I would recommend HEALING MONTANA SKY to anyone who enjoys well-written historical western romance.
Suggested Reading Order:
WILD MONTANA SKY (Book #1)
STARRY MONTANA SKY (Book #2)
STORMY MONTANA SKY (Book #3)
GLORIOUS MONTANA SKY (Book #4)
HEALING MONTANA SKY (Book #5)