Badlands Bride by Adrianne Wood

Badlands Bride by Adrianne WoodAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Western Romance

Publisher: Pocket Books

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Pam

Lily Highfill has spent long years in Denver, exiled from her wealthy, high-society family in Boston. With a betrothal to a titled Englishman nearly in her pocket and an invitation to return home to Boston in hand, Lily thinks her future is set and decides to spend her final month out West at her grandfather’s fossil dig in the Colorado badlands. Then a famous frontier journalist enters the bone hunters’ camp and stirs up trouble—and her heart.

Mason Donnelly used to be one of the most popular writers west of the Mississippi, but after several dry months, his career has hit rock bottom. One big story could put him back on top, and he senses that there’s more to this fossil dig than dinosaur bones. But a feisty heiress with a knack for finding trouble is about to derail all his plans in ways he could never imagine….

I really enjoyed this book – it took me on a surprising journey from the beginning to the end.

Mason Donnelly is a 28 year old reporter who was working for a newspaper. Recently he felt that he had lost his edge and had not been writing up to his usual excellence. He now knows he is not the only one that felt that way as his boss at the newspaper told him to take some time off and recharge. So he ends up in Colorado at an archeological dig that he visited a year ago and wrote an article about, to see if he could restore his writing ability.

He visits Charles Highfill a wealthy businessman, who is financing the dig, they look for fossils in different places around the country for his museums back east. Mason wrote an article a year ago about Highfill’s expedition, some thought he was harsh on Highfill, claiming he was a wealthy man that did not do much to help with the dig. Mason is known for telling the truth and not glossing over details, which makes him very popular to readers of his articles.

Lily Highfill is the 22 year old granddaughter of Charles Highfill. She is learning the ropes with her grandfather and spending time with her fiancé Cecil before heading back to Boston. She has lived in Denver for the past eight years with her aunt Evaline, as she was a very difficult teen and was voicing her feelings loudly about her mother re-marrying, much to her mother’s dismay. She is trying to find where she belongs in this world and believes she is ready to return to Boston even though the one time she visited she felt out of place. When Lily meets Mason for the first time she recognizes his name and is at first turned off because she does not feel he treated her grandfather fairly in his article but eventually comes around.

Cecil St John is Lily’s fiancé, a man her mother adores and would welcome into the family. Lily likes him well enough however wonders why he is not more affectionate toward her and at times hates the way he talks to her and disregards her drawings of the fossils. She likes Cecil and does not really notice how he treats her until Mason points it out to her and realizes he is not the man for her.

While the expedition has several weeks left to go Cecil and Highfill notice sapphire gems sprinkled among the samples they bring in from the dig, they are worried that it will bring gem hunters to the area which would trample and create havoc around the dig site. Highfill also does not want Mason to know about the find, as he does not want him to write an article bringing more publicity to the site. Because they are worried about Mason finding out, they push him to leave which only makes him more curious about what is going on. His reporter mind starts to work again and he is excited that the words are beginning to flow.

Lily and Mason spend time together and begin to grow close but realize Lily wants to go (or should go) back to Boston and Mason is a wonderer and has no real destination in mind for the near future. As the dig wraps up they start to talk about what could happen when out of the blue Cecil tells Mason about the sapphires. Mason is intrigued and is suspicious about the timing, he tells Lily he must go to Denver but will return in three days. Yet it is seven days before he returns and he brings her Aunt Evaline back with him. He has found out something important about her grandfather and wanted her aunt with her when he tells her. Mason goes to Highfill and Cecil to show proof and tell him that he is writing a story about everything. Highfill tries to reason with Mason and makes some interesting offers, however Mason is outraged and leaves. When Lily and her aunt come to the tent to talk, there is a struggle and Lily’s aunt makes a stunning announcement that will change Lily’s life forever.

As Lily returns home with her grandfather, Mason takes off toward the west. There are things that must be settled and secrets that are revealed before apologies and forgiveness can begin.

I was very surprised about how much I liked this book. The story was engaging and unpredictable. Lily was a very intriguing character and I loved that Mason is a beta hero. The chemistry was great between them, as they started as friends and then later became much more. They grew as people in the short time they were together. The story was captivating and kept me turning the pages until the end, not only was the end interesting, there were several surprises that caught me off guard.

I give Badlands Bride by Adrianne Wood 4 stars!

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