I've read all of Ms Banning's books, each with increasing pleasure, and this story of two honorable people, one torn by guilt and the other by a promise taken to extremes, is vivid, compelling, funny, and exceptionally moving.
Constance Weldon and her younger sister, Nettie, a spoiled brat if ever there was one, are part of a wagon train bound for Oregon when Major John Montgomery and his long-time companion, Billy West, are assigned escort duty. John and Constance are soul mates, but thanks to Nettie, seem destined to live apart - and frustrated. The tale of these four characters is deftly interwoven, adding to the vibrancy and complexity of the novel.
Ms Banning has a gift for writing that appears simple on the surface, but resonates deeply with true human emotions, frailties and virtues. Her characters are richly drawn, not merely with words, but with dialogue and action. The difficulties of the Oregon Trail are a background to human endurance and the aching need to love and be loved.
Endearing historical western romance set on a wagon train journey to Oregon. Loved Constance and John. They didn't beat around the bush when they fell in love. But her younger sister, Nettie, was a manipulative, self-centered, obnoxious piece of work, and was, of course, determined to throw their romance off course to the very end. She certainly didn't deserve Constance. Nice ending though I thought Nettie deserved more comeuppance. Sweetly entertaining. 3.5 stars.
Expecting the unexpected was an army scout's job.
Major Montogomery found love along the Oregon Trail.
The gal had promised her dying father she'd drive their wagon west.
The romance was interrupted by a younger sister who set her sights on John Montogomery.
Mr. Welton, a widowed banker, suddenly decides to move his two daughters and their belongings to Oregon in 1860. At the usual jumping off point for western travel, Independence, Missouri, Mr. Welton suddenly dies. His two daughters, Constance and Henrietta (Nettie), are left on their own. Fortunately, they were already signed up to join a wagon train of 11 wagons. The wagon master, Mr. Duquette, was green (otherwise he would have known that wagon masters didn't allow women to travel alone. They could not keep up with the families with men -- who could handle the most strenuous tasks. Single women were a severe liability to a wagon train with unhappy Indians around).
Fortunately, Duquette had the sense to ask for a military escort through Indian Territory. Fort Kearney's post commandant, Colonel Butterworth sends Major John Montgomery and Billy West. It doesn't take long for the experienced military men to argue with the inexperienced Duquette.
That isn't the only tiff in the wagon train; Constance is almost worn out because she does the lion's share of the work and Nettie avoids it as much as possible. Billy is very interested in Nettie but Nettie wants John Montgomery. Soon, Constance and John fall in love. But there is other trouble, because the Indian Yellow Wolf wants Constance.
I've never known anyone who deserved the phrase, 'a piece of work' more than Nettie. She's always been pampered by her parents and now feels it is her right. Even though she knows Constance is interested in John, Nettie decides she wants him. In fact, she gets Colonel Butterworth to force John to marry her or face a court-martial.
The characters are interesting and most (except Nettie) are great to get to know. This is a pleasant story about difficult conditions; the problems keep the reader turning the pages.