This week the CFBA is looking at the inaugural book for the new Avon Inspired line, a joint project between Avon and HarperCollins. Defiant Heart, the first in the Westward Hearts Series by Tracey Bateman, was a great way to launch the line.
In Defiant Heart Fannie Caldwell is desperate to find a way to free herself and her siblings from a man who delights in abusing them. To do so, she has to talk her onto the next wagon train. The only problem is that Blake Tanner, the wagon train master refuses to let unescorted women join the train.
The book traces their journey. Fannie has to learn to trust others to help her, despite all the challenges in her past. Blake has to allow himself to consider a future with a woman who seems the anti-thesis of everything he's looked for. Yet her spark and fire are what attract him to her.
The book is filled with twists and turns that kept me turning the pages. Tracey fills the pages with conflict and placed the story in a setting that presents plenty of challenges for Fannie and her family. Defiant Heart was an easy read, and I enjoyed the cast of characters. Fannie's twin siblings were a study in contrasts, but also a tight knit family that's used to standing alone against the world. The subplot focuses on Toni, a former prostitute, and Sam, the lead scout. Their story will be the focus of book two, and I look forward to reading it.
The one problem I had with this story was the point of view breaks. Many of them could have been resolved with an extra line to show that we were switching from Fannie to Blake's POV. However, there were other times the author almost went around the campfire showing us what each person was thinking. Frankly, I don't know how much this would bother the average reader, but it's the one craft problem I found in the book.
If you are looking for a pioneer story, this is a great one to pick up. I really enjoyed it.