Title: Winter Hearts
Author: Fyn Alexander
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages/Word Count: 231 Pages
At a Glance: A strong historical romance with sweet, lonely men in a small town on the prairie
Blurb: Luke Chandler says he wants nothing more than a quiet life on his land-claim in Dakota Territory. But what he also wants is a partner. The problem is, loving other men in 1881 means a lonely life for a man like Luke. As the son of a butcher from Boston, his desire for a loving domestic relationship seems nothing more than a dream, until one winter night, a snow storm blows a young man to his door in need of shelter, and as the winter drags on, bringing with it a slow burning love, his hopes begin to soar. Along with those hopes, his fears of the reactions of the people in the small town of De Smet grow.
Sam Smith is a romantic, but he also holds a strong family loyalty. He leaves Boston to get away from his parents’ expectations for a while, always knowing he must return at some point. The sweet young man does not anticipate meeting a rugged, honest man like Luke, who is desperate for love while at the same time afraid of the repercussions. The first time Luke holds him in his arms, Sam plans on making Luke his darling man.
Review: Settling the west was a difficult job for anyone, but I imagine it must have been even harder for the men whose desires ran toward other men. Expected to settle down and raise a family, these men can’t get lost in a small town like they could in the large cities. There are no places they can go for like-minded men. That’s what you have with this book. Luke has left Boston to settle land in Dakota Territory. He’s running away from the man he loved, who’d tricked him. Enter Sam Smith. He is in the small town of De Smet to prove himself by settling his own land claim, even though he’s never farmed before. But, he has read about it! That should make it okay, right? By chance, he meets Luke when a blizzard during his journey sends him to the first house he sees for safety. Over the course of the winter that keeps them isolated from the rest of the town and stuck inside, the two men learn to love each other.
Believe me, it’s not all simple. There are dangers for Sam and Luke in the small prairie town, and it’s not the wolves after their livestock. Sam is young and handsome (and rich), and there are many young women in town who need a husband, and their fathers are set on Sam being a part of the family. It’s the same for Luke. No one can accept the two men staying single when there are other options. Especially when the men start to live together.
Sam and Luke are different from each other, and the author does an excellent job of developing them. Luke is gruff and hard on the outside, but he does want a loving partnership with another man. Meanwhile, Sam is young and energetic and much like a playful pup. While he might have been set on settling his claim and being a success, he loves to cook and clean and make a nice house for the man he cares about. And he doesn’t exactly think he should have to hide that fact. He’s overly optimistic in everything he does, which, of course, means trouble for the couple.
I enjoyed how protective Luke was of Sam, and when things don’t go so well, his reactions are understandable. In fact, I felt that was the most believable part of the novel. He lashes out because Sam’s life is in danger. Who wouldn’t? And his reaction to finding out the truth about Sam also rang true. Other parts are a bit more unrealistic, such as the ending. It’s sweet and I did love it, but it’s a sweet fantasy, especially given the time period.
If you like historical romances set in the west, I’d definitely give this book a chance. It’s well written, with great characters and just enough angst to make your heart hurt for a little bit, but the author makes it all better with an HEA ending.
You can buy Winter Hearts here: