Tried and True: Wild at Heart, Book One
Every time I see that a new Mary Connealy book is coming out, I immediately begin to stalk libraries, bookstores or the Internet so I can get my hands on it as quickly as possible. Each time I have read one of her books, I’ve fallen in love with her characters and enjoyed every one of their adventures and love stories.
TRIED AND TRUE begins a new trilogy in Connealy’s Wild at Heart series. We meet her latest heroines, the Wilde sisters: Kylie, the protagonist; and Bailey and Shannon, her sisters. Their biggest challenge? Well, they have several. Their father, Cudgel, has always treated them as boys, even to the point of coercing them to don men’s clothing to enlist and fight in the Union Army. With the end of the Civil War, the sisters and their father head west to the unsettled areas of Idaho Territory to homestead and start anew. Cudgel’s vision is for each of them to file on adjacent properties, which eventually will be joined together to honor the girls’ brother, who was killed during the war. He is more than a little obsessed with this idea and quite skilled at manipulating the sisters to do what he asks.
"TRIED AND TRUE is just as satisfying as Connealy’s previous books. Kylie and her sisters are captivating characters, and Aaron, along with the others who populate the story, will endear themselves to your heart... This newest novel is fun and intriguing, and will keep you entertained until you turn the last page."
There are just a couple of small problems with Cudgel’s plan. First, in order to speed up the settling process (for each settler must remain on his claim for five years to gain ownership of the land), the girls need to continue masquerading as young men. A Union veteran can count his years of war service against the five years required on his claim, and neither the sisters nor their father want their served time to go to waste.
And second? Kylie, the youngest, is sick and tired of passing herself off as a man. Unlike her sisters, who chopped off their hair and wore it short, she has kept her hair long (hiding it under a hat when she has to go out in public). Kylie longs to make it back to the civilized cities of the United States. She is tired of the wilderness, her father’s lack of consideration, and living all by herself on her claim. Certainly, her family’s claims are only a short horseback ride away. But that isn’t very comforting when she is all alone at night and thinks she hears someone whispering her name, but can’t see anyone there.
Unbeknownst to Kylie, her time of masquerade is almost up. One afternoon, when a rainstorm is heading her way, she realizes that there is a board loose on her roof. Although she’s not too fond of heights, she knows that if she doesn’t get that board nailed down before the storm hits, she is going to have rainwater all over her bed. So she rigs up a contraption to serve as a ladder, shimmies up on the roof and hammers things down. Naturally, the storm hits before she can get down. And then she can’t find the chair she had used to climb up.
Fortunately for Kylie, the area’s new land agent, Aaron Masterson, happens upon her just before she pitches off the roof. He, too, is seeking to put the horrors of war behind him and build a new life. Unlike Kylie, however, he wants to build one out in the wilds of Idaho Territory. He notices immediately that she is not a man as he catches her mid-fly. He soon realizes that she therefore is not in lawful possession of her claim. As they begin a relationship with sparks flying everywhere, how will Aaron reconcile his conscience and his career with helping Kylie with a claim she can’t lawfully own?
Kylie soon discovers that letting others know she’s really a woman isn’t her only problem. There’s a cattleman who insists on driving his cattle through her land. Someone else wants her off her property and doesn’t care if she’s hurt in the process. And then there’s the hidden person who keeps whispering her name in the night. Will Kylie survive all these perils? And will she ever be able to live a life in skirts with the man of her dreams?
TRIED AND TRUE is just as satisfying as Connealy’s previous books. Kylie and her sisters are captivating characters, and Aaron, along with the others who populate the story, will endear themselves to your heart (well, except for the bad guys and gals). This newest novel is fun and intriguing, and will keep you entertained until you turn the last page. The only problem we all have now is waiting for book two in the series to be released.
Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on September 18, 2014