Sarah Marshall never wanted to leave Chicago and head west on a wagon train bound for the New Mexico Territory, but she wasn’t given a choice. The rugged trail is no place for her ailing aunt—and tending oxen and gathering buffalo chips is no job for a sophisticated young woman. All Sarah wants is to see her aunt safely to Santa Fe, and then she plans to return home to the Windy City.
Ethan Harper, the youngest of three adult brothers, enjoys a peaceful existence helping run his family’s stage stop in Kansas, along the Santa Fe Trail. Only one cloud continues to darken his horizon—guilt over his part in the tragic death of his oldest brother’s wife. The only acceptable penance Ethan can think of is to find Aaron a new wife, and then his two children would have a mother.
A series of misfortunes strands Sarah and her aunt at the Harpers’ Stage Stop, where they depend upon the generosity of the kindhearted Harper family. Soon, the presence of an attractive young woman, however unversed in the ways of prairie living, wreaks havoc on the well-ordered lives of the Harper brothers. Ethan grasps at this chance to get Aaron a wife, but the more interest Aaron shows in Sarah, the less Ethan likes it. And Josh wants his chance at wooing her, too. Will any of the brothers prove himself worthy to Sarah? Or will she finally head home to Chicago, leaving behind a trail of broken hearts?
You know it’s not going to end well when, on the first page, you read about a woman riding a horse named Jezebel. So begins the opening book in the Prairie Promises series by Vickie McDonough. The female rider is Ethan’s sister in law and this is the prologue set in 1868. Della is such a silly chit, however, that it’s almost a relief to know she won’t feature in the rest of the book. Fast forward two years, and we’re introduced to Sarah Marshall. We immediately learn three things: she’s an orphan, she’s good with children, and she has a beau who isn’t exactly endearing. We then meet her overbearing uncle and timid aunt. Sarah is forced to leave Chicago to assist her aunt when her uncle decides to move out west. Naturally, when she and Ethan meet they don’t exactly get along.
In Whispers on the Prairie, we have one attractive woman and several single men on the lookout for a wife. We can safely presume the outcome of this book but, in the meantime, we can appreciate the slightly clumsy attempts of the cowboy bachelors who attempt to woo her. The three brothers alternate between almost coming to blows and agreeing that the oldest brother should court her. In the meantime, Sarah continues searching for a way back to her life in Chicago. She knows which brother she likes, but it doesn’t look as if her interest is shared. At least she’s staying with a Christian family. That uncle of hers wasn’t exactly into attending church back in the city.
Lighthearted at times, while somber at others, Whispers on the Prairie is an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon. There are no bad guys to figure out or mysteries to be solved. At the back of my copy was an excerpt from book two, Call of the Prairie, in which we meet Sophie from St Louis. Which Harper brother is in her future?
Thank you to Whitaker House for my free copy of Whispers on the Prairie, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Whitaker House
Publication Date: 17 June 2013
Page Count: 272