Historical Western Romance
Penniless and estranged from her wealthy family in New Orleans, Widow Doña Melissa Bertrand de Cabrillo must barter her way from California to Louisiana in order to save her niece, even if it means posing as the wife of a perfect stranger.
Gold miner and banker Sebastian Henderson needs to find a wife soon . . . or at least a woman willing to play the role. Doña Melissa provides the perfect solution, but sharing a cabin with the tempting southern belle proves more challenging than their bargain—and more dangerous—after a passenger aboard their steamship is murdered. Melissa is convinced the death is connected to her family’s events in New Orleans.
Thrown together by necessity, united by love, Melissa and Sebastian must unravel a murderous scheme threatening to tear them apart.
Uncaged Review: Doña Melissa Bertrand de Cabrillo must leave the safety of California and return to her family home in New Orleans, Louisiana to check on the welfare of her beloved niece. Except now she is a widow, and penniless, and with no way to secure passage. Enter Sebastian…whom she thinks is the perfect answer to her problem, even if she doesn’t particularly like gold miners. Sebastian Henderson has money, digs for gold for fun and owns a bank with his brother. Right now, he needs to escort a young lady in his care from California to Boston. Per social custom, she needs a female chaperone, so he needs a wife, or someone willing to act as on while on the voyage. Enter Melissa…whom he thinks is the perfect Southern Belle solution to his need.
This is a unique and action-packed story with a growing cast of characters that add to the excitement. Passengers are murdered on the steamship, and Melissa is convinced it’s somehow related to the poisonings that killed members of her family. Her estranged Bertrand family owns those steamships and Melissa is also concerned she is leading Sebastian right into the heart of the danger awaiting them in New Orleans. As the tensions and number of victims grow, so does the mutual attraction between Melissa and Sebastian and their “pretend” marriage.
This story could have been deepened if the author had included more details about steamship travel during this era, since so much of the book took place aboard the steamship. Melissa’s internal and external conflicts were clear, and sometimes painfully so, as she worked her way through them. Sebastian’s internal conflicts were a bit murkier, though he is the quintessential hero and the type of man every woman dreams of sailing with. Reviewed by Ryan Jo