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Open Country is book two in Kaki Warner’s Blood Roses trilogy (review for book one here) and begins in 1871 as nurse Molly McFarlane finds herself between a rock and a hard place. Her father is dead after supposedly committing suicide, her niece and nephew are at the mercy of their dastardly step-father (an evil baddie with nefarious plots), and it appears there’s some book he thinks Molly has and he’s hot to get it at any cost. Molly flees west with the children where they end up in a horrible train accident. Molly hears that widows will receive $300 for the loss of their husbands, and since Hank Wilkens is as good as dead anyway, she ups and gets herself married to an unconscious groom.

Long story short, Hank survives due to Molly’s excellent nursing skills (her father was a doctor), but his memory’s still a bit off so he believes he married her for love (older brother Brady is in on the deception since he wants a nurse for his pregnant wife Jessica). Molly, Penny and Charlie are brought back to the ranch to join the ever-increasing Wilkens clan at the RosaRoja ranch in New Mexico, where Hank determines to court his *bride* again, and it’s beginning to look like everything might just work out…

And if he had to court a wife for the second time he didn’t remember from the first time, well . . . he’d do it . . . and hope they got to that taking-off-the-clothes part before he was so old he started losing his memory all over again.

That is until Hank’s memory comes back (no spoilers, that’s in the book description), and let’s say he’s not exactly amused. But don’t forget there’s still that evil baddie chasing her (he’s a mean one) and if Molly doesn’t have the mysterious book he wants so badly, just who does have it? And why are his employers so desperate to get it back?

I have to say I am loving this series to bits – especially the kids and the humor. Penny and Charlie are a perfect addition to older brother Brady’s expanding household, most especially Penny. Lord love a sticky six-year-old with a constantly dripping nose asking questions that no adult wants to answer 😀

Because Aunt Molly’s hurt and you said you would keep us safe and now we aren’t.” She let her hands fall to the bed and glared at him. “But I’m not leaving until I get my kitty. You promised.”

Like a dog with a bone, Penny never lets go…

The kid must be part Apache the way she snuck up on a person. “Say what?” he asked groggily. “That I puked.” He squinted up at her, trying to make sense of her words. Conversations with Penny were always a challenge. “Why not?” “Ladies aren’t allowed to say ‘puked.’

I enjoyed watching the relationship between Hank and Molly, and while I understood his anger at her original deception, I think Hank’s anger went a bit too far and it almost evolved into a Big Misunderstanding of the worst kind. The biggest plus for me though was getting to see more of Brady and Jessica from book one. Typically in series like these you’re lucky to get a brief cameo appearance here and there, but Warner puts Brady and Jessica front and center – thumbs up for that. My only real quibble is the final twists with the baddie chasing her, and Molly’s incredibly dumb stunt to save them all. I wanted to wring her foolish neck. Still, you don’t want to miss these and I’m already on the last book, Chasing the Sun.

FTC, Kindle edition via library loan.

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