Author: Renee Donne
Published by: Anaiah Press
Date published: July 29, 2014
Steam Rating: Sweet
Main Characters: Marianne & Aaron
“By this point I was totally attached to Aaron with his chivalry and southern boy charm and Marianne with her sweetness and willingness to do things she never thought she would.” ~Becca
After Marianne discovers her bankrupt stepfather sold her into marriage to the highest bidder, she flees Philadelphia and heads west to start a new life.
Unfortunately for her danger follows. First, a stage coach accident leaves her stranded in the middle of nowhere – with an injured driver. And henchmen, hired by her spurned would-be husband, are hot on her trail, threatening to return her to Philadelphia and the man who is determined to own her.
Just when things seem hopeless, Marianne is rescued by a handsome, cowboy who offers temporary refuge. Knowing she can’t refuse, yet wary of his intentions, Marianne finds herself drawn to this quiet, enigmatic hero. But is he someone she can trust?
This was my first Historical Romance and I was very nervous about reading it. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to give it the review it deserved due to my hesitance to read it. I’ve never been a big history buff and generally won’t be caught dead watching a western! That being said, the synopsis grabbed me and had me willing to give it a shot.
The story starts off very well and definitely gets your attention and makes you care for Marianne and her circumstance. I can’t imaging being thrown into the situation that she is in with this prearranged marriage. I quickly became engrossed in the characters so much so that I just had to keep reading and see where it would lead. I found myself pleasantly surprised by the story line and setting. It was a nice change of pace to read about carriage rides and gun fights in the most beautiful of settings. Even though the synopsis gives you a pretty good idea of where the book will go, Renee Donne manages to fit in a few twists and turns that are a little unexpected. I did find myself wishing that there had been a bit…well just MORE to the story. I found myself wanting to drag out the book, learn more about the individual characters and their lives, I wanting to get some details during the “courting” process! I really just feel that the author could have taken the book to a whole new level had she expanded on the story a bit.
There is a HUGE Christian theme in Runaway. Basically, Marianne’s life is guided by God’s hand and she is put where she needs to be, with who she needs to be, at the time she needs to be there. This is even taken a step further by Aaron and his unwillingness to “court” someone that hasn’t found the Lord and doesn’t pray. There were a few times that I honestly felt like this was a bit “in your face” and not so much a back set or part of the book. I think that it could have been worked in a bit more smoothly and gotten the moral across a little better. In my opinion the focus often fell on the religious side and not the side of romance.
Let’s talk about this romance a bit. There isn’t a ton I can say without spoilers, so this will be short, sweet and to the point! This is a historical, western romance and as such it follows how things would have been done in that time. Things flow slowly, but it seems to fit. While Marianne and Aaron’s bond grows from strangers into a friendship of sorts there are absolutely NO “steamy” bits to be found. This means that the most romance you will see here is a hand holding or two and a few private talks on the porch and at the creek. When things finally progress past the point of friendship (Some major things happen in the story line that I can’t say here…but read it and you will understand!) Aaron asks to “court” Marianne! Here is where I got excited! My first thought was, “YAY! Now we get to watch them grow from friends to romance!”
Sorry to disappoint you guys…that doesn’t happen! We don’t get ANY of the “courting”! It flashes from the scene above to a quick Epilogue where we still don’t get so much as a kiss I was very saddened by this! By this point I was totally attached to Aaron with his chivalry and southern boy charm and Marianne with her sweetness and willingness to do things she never thought she would. Dang it, I wanted to read about at least one sweet kiss! lol
Okay, enough about my disappointment with the romance, no kiss issue. Overall, this was a sweet and quick read. I really enjoyed the historical aspect of the story line, which totally threw me for a loop! I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much! I say head on over to Amazon and give it a try, it’s definitely worth the read.
Renee Donne is a native Floridian with a penchant for writing books with a western theme. In her head she’s a world traveler and an amateur chef. In real life, she’s a hometown girl with an affinity for fine wine and good friends. Her favorite place to write is sitting on her veranda, overlooking the beach.
Describe your book/series in 15 words or less!
Fleeing an arranged marriage, Marianne flees west to start a new life. Danger follows.
Tell us about your protagonist? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?
Halsted is a lecherous old man, who will stop at nothing to possess Marianne as his bride. He is pure fiction, but easy to depict.
Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
I think I like Aaron best. He is a strong Christian and lives his beliefs, a real hero. And, he is handsome.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I guess it would be the final chapter, where everything comes to a head. But, I don’t want to give away too much.
Are you the driver or a passenger in your book? (Are you in control of where the story goes or does it sort of just happen?)
I am definitely the driver.
What books are on your nightstand or by your chair?
The Bible, my devotional, and I am currently reading Full Disclosure, by Dee Henderson
What’s next for you?
I have a YA that is scheduled for release this fall,with Anaiah Press, and I am currently working on a Romantic Suspense.
Marianne leaned against the wall and tilted her feet so her weight balanced on the outer edges of her soles. Her legs, from the knee down, were killing her. Dancing always did that to her. She watched the other guests circulating about the room, which was bright for such a late hour. Was she the only one there who found the whole thing tedious? She’d rather have been curled up in an armchair, reading. But her stepfather insisted she come to Maxwell Halsted’s Constitution Day ball.
As if conjured by her thoughts, Halsted came up behind her and put an arm around her slender shoulders. The contact made her uncomfortable. Something about the way he touched her reminded her of a cat toying with a mouse. She tried to pull away, but his hand tightened on her shoulder, his fingers digging in almost painfully. She dared a glance up at him. He was tall and slender with wavy, silver hair and piercing blue eyes. But something cold lurked in those eyes, something that made her wish to never be in a room alone with the man.
“Come, my dear, dance with me.” He guided Marianne toward the center of the dance floor. It was more a command than a request, but he was very wealthy and probably quite used to people acquiescing to his every want, however unreasonable. He was an accomplished dancer, and Marianne almost enjoyed the waltz. Until his hand started a slow roam in the direction a gentleman’s hands should not go. “I must admit, I had considered offering to make you my mistress, but when Jacob approached me with the proposition to bail him out of debt in exchange for your hand, I could not refuse. You will make me a happy man as my wife.”
Halsted’s words hit home just as the dance ended. Taking advantage of the swell of people leaving the dance floor, Marianne pulled out of Halsted’s arms and insinuated herself into the crowd, out of reach. Then, she set out to find Jacob. This could not be true; Halstead was at least sixty years old, and a letch to boot!
She found her stepfather standing on the terrace, staring out at the landscape below. The lines of his face looked harsher than usual, the circles under his cloudy, brown eyes darker. The tense hand he lifted to stroke through his greying, blond hair was thin and bony, gaunt.
At the moment she reached him, the confrontation began. “Is what Halsted just told me true? How could you?”
“Surely you know what a beautiful girl you are, Marianne?” It was more a question than a comment. She nodded, and he continued, “Over the last few years, many men have expressed interest, asked permission to court you.”
That was news to her. Not once had Jacob ever mentioned any suitors. Men had spoken to Jacob about courting her? Why was he just now telling her this?
He cleared his throat and looked so much like he was mustering courage. “You must have noticed the changes lately. I’ve lost quite a bit of money, and it has become increasingly difficult to maintain the lifestyle we are accustomed to.” That explained why he’d released the entire staff save for the housekeeper.
Jacob continued, “I devised a plan that would enable us both to continue living in the comfortable style we have always enjoyed. I put the word out that I was looking for a suitable match for you, but this was not to be the typical arrangement. Rather than me providing a dowry for you, your hand would be given to the one who offered the highest sum of money. Maxwell agreed to settle all my debts, and then some.”
Marianne’s world tilted on its axis. “No, I won’t do it. We can sell some things, move to a smaller home, but I will not be sold!”
Jacob was calm. “The matter is settled. I provided for you for these last fifteen years after marrying your mother, but she’s dead now. I have continued to care for you as though you were my own child, giving you a life filled with luxury. Now it is your turn to repay the favor.”
What do you think? Do you like to read Historical Romance?