THE TRAIL TO LOVE
by Tina Susedik
Jack Billabard, mourning the loss of his wife and baby in childbirth, vows to never to love again. After their funeral at Fort Laramie, he rides into the Wyoming hills beyond the ranch he built for his wife. Through his grieving tears, an ancient tree appears, giving him the hope he doesn\’t believe is possible. For the next four years, he acts as a guide on the Oregon Trail, taking families to a new life while his looms lonely and stagnant.
The night before her abusive husband’s death, an ancient tree appears in Sarah Nickelson\’s yard as she agonizes over how to survive her marriage. The tree gives her hope she can’t help but reject. After all, a tree doesn\’t just appear out of nowhere. After her husband \’s death, and with no options as a widow in Independence, Missouri, Sarah decides to travel to Oregon City as a Mail Order Bride.
During their trek west on the Oregon Trail, Jack and Sarah encounter one another, each afraid of being hurt again. Can they survive dogs and puppies, wind and rainstorms, Indians and unfavorable fellow passengers, while their love blossoms? Will the tree fulfill its promise?
Cold seeped into his bones. Something warm blew across his face and ears. Jack swatted at his ears and peeled one gritty eye open.
\”Papaya!\” He pushed at the horse\’s nose. \”Go away.\” Papaya continued prodding at him. \”Darn horse.\” He rubbed his cold hands together.
In the dim light, he wasn\’t sure if it was morning or evening. The previous day\’s events came back to him. He sat up and wiped a hand over his stubbly chin. Tears burned behind his eyes.
Papaya tugged at his sleeve until the only thing he could do was stand. \”Darn it, horse, leave me alone.\” He pushed the horse to the side. The sun rising behind the mountains from the east cast a shadow on a tree Jack swore hadn\’t been there the night before.
Standing at least twenty feet high, the trunk was twisted and gnarled like the arthritic hands of his grandfather. Several roots rose from the ground making it look as if it would walk away. Some of its massive branches drooped close to the ground, like arms dragging across the grass.
As the sky lightened, he realized that, unlike the rough bark of the pines at this altitude, the tree\’s light brown bark was smooth. Was it the lighting, or did some of the bark actually seem golden while in other places it was rough and dark brown? The surrounding trees paled in comparison.
Jack stepped closer. Pale green, oval leaves reminded him of an elm tree, only much smaller. When the wind blew, the undersides shimmered with a silvery glow.
The Trail to Love is a beautiful historical love story. Both Jack and Sara feel real with fleshed out backstories and personalities. I especially loved Sarah’s relationship with her son. The mother-child bond was so strong and heartwarming.
The Soul Mate Tree played some truly awesome parts in this story. I love how it showed both Jack and Sarah one another before they ever met. Having read the previous books in this series, I like how each author does something different with the tree. This is the most versatile plant I’ve ever seen. The way the tree was used during love-making scenes in The Trail to Love was great.
Jack, Sarah, and Sarah’s son, weren’t the only characters worth loving. Some of the other traveling along the trail are kind and funny, especially Greta. I appreciate books that give secondary characters as much attention as the main folks. On that note, I really disliked Horace. Not only was he a scumbag, but his character felt a bit overdone—the violent man who takes advantage of women. I think I would have found his character more realistic if he’d hit on other women, but he just obsessed on Sarah, which felt off. I also thought the resolution of Sarah’s arranged marriage came a bit too easily, but these were my only two issues with the book. The rest of it is slow-burning romance, strong characters, and fun from start to finish.
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Tina Susedik is an award-winning, multi-published author with books in both fiction and non-fiction, including history, children’s, military books and romances. Her favorite is writing romance stories where her characters live happily ever after. She lives in Northwestern Wisconsin and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Wisconsin Romance Writer\’s of America, Wisconsin Writer’s Association, and Sisters In crime. Her twentieth book will be released in November with her Chandler County book, Missing My Heart. Tina also write spicier romances as Anita Kidesu.
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Tina Susedik will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway