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Friday, June 3, 2016

Audiobook Review: Beneath Montana's Sky by Debra Holland

Beneath Montana’s Sky by Debra Holland
Book .5 (Prologue) of Wild Montana Sky Series
Unabridged, 4 hr. 40 min.
Debra Holland
Lara Asmudson (Narrator)
April 14, 2015

Heat Rating:
Genre: Historical Romance, Western

Source: Received Free Download from Author via Audible for Review
BEFORE THE MAIL-ORDER BRIDES OF THE WEST SERIES, BEFORE WILD MONTANA SKY, COMES THE PREQUEL TO THE MONTANA SKY SERIES, sweet historical western romance by NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Debra Holland set in 1882.
Plain and timid, debutante Pamela Burke-Smythe is a wallflower at the high society Boston balls she attends, overlooked by possible suitors. One-by-one, her friends become engaged, and Pamela resigns herself as to life as a spinster.
When rancher John Carter becomes guardian to his orphaned godson, Nick, nothing he does seems to help the grieving, angry boy. At his wit’s end, he believes that a wife might help draw Nick out, and lonely himself, John’s been thinking along the matrimonial lines for a while anyway. But small Sweetwater Springs, Montana, has no suitable candidates. He decides to visit his great-aunt Hester in Boston and bring back a wife who is kind and compassionate, can be a mother figure to Nick, and who can adapt to the hard life on the ranch.
Hester plays matchmaker for John, introducing him to Pamela. John responds to Pamela’s kind heart and believes he’s found the ideal woman. But Pamela never thought to marry a stranger and leave Boston, and her family and friends are against the idea. She musters all her meager courage to defy her loved ones and seize her only chance at marriage.
After a whirlwind courtship, the couple marries and travels west. Pamela discovers a run-down ranch house, a bunch of unruly cowboys, a sullen boy, and a different way of life. Can their new marriage survive the challenge?
This novella sets the stage for Debra Holland’s entire Wild Montana Sky and Mail Order Brides of the West series; it is chronologically the earliest. This however wasn’t my first introduction to the Sweetwater Springs world (that was with Grace: Bride of Montana).

The novella starts out in two different settings that occur simultaneously: Montana, on the ranch that John Carter owns, and Boston, where Pamela lives. We are introduced to John and he is a solid, upstanding rancher who has just taken in his godson and really has no idea how to raise a teenage boy dealing with the grief of losing his family. He knows that a wife would make his life easier and possibly bring Nick out of his grief, but he has to look far afield for one as there are not many in the wilds of Montana. John’s whole approach is in looking at it in not quite the strictly business arrangement manner, but he’s not looking for a love-at-first-sight match either. I found him earnest and interested in doing what he can for everyone. Pamela lives in a world that is very, very different from John; she lives in the urban environment of Boston complete with all the amenities that a city life brings. She has settled on being an old maid for the rest of her life, so she makes a huge mess of things in ultimately getting to the altar with John. Her reaction to essentially being swept up in a pseudo-arranged/quick marriage is very much like my own would be: cautious, but optimistic. He is a hard worker who tries to improve life for herself and those around her on the new ranch she will call home. I think I most enjoyed watching her put these men in line (there is one scene where all I can envision is Snow White sending the dwarves out to bathe!). There were quite a few chuckles to be had here.

The romance in this novel is slow building, which I found believable and appropriate for the time period and nature of the relationship. They agree to marry without really knowing too much about each other and over time grow to trust one another. Most women who moved west had to be industrious and figure out creative ways to solve the myriad of problems they would encounter, and Pamela does just that, even though she is from a more posh background. She is able to blend herself into John’s life and build a family from those that welcome her into their world.

I found this novella to be sweet and intriguing as I came to know more about these characters and this setting of Sweetwater Springs. It was a quick read and I look forward to reading more in this series.


The issue that I had with the last audiobook narrated by Lara Asmudson (Grace, Bride of Montana) I also encountered here. Overall, her narration was very good, however there seems to always be one character whose voice bothers me tremendously and can pull me out of the story; this time it was Pamela’s Boston friend Elizabeth Hamilton. Her British accent did nothing for me, and every time she called her “dear Pam” the sound of it pulled me right out of the story. The good thing here is that Elizabeth is not one of the main characters, she is just present in the Boston section of the story, which isn’t long), so it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment to a great extent. The narrator’s pacing of the reading is well done while still moving the story along.

You can listen to a sample of the book to get a taste for both the story and narration:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Audible

**At the time of this review – the book is free on all these platforms!!**

Also by Debra Holland:

Wild Montana Sky (Wild Montana Sky #1)

Starry Montana Sky (Wild Montana Sky #2)

Stormy Montana Sky (Wild Montana Sky #3)

Montana Sky Christmas (Wild Montana Sky #3.1)

A Valentine's Choice (Wild Montana Sky #3.2)

Painted Montana Sky (Wild Montana Sky #3.5)

Glorious Montana Sky (Wild Montana Sky #4)

Sweetwater Springs Scrooge (Wild Montana Sky #4.1)

Sweetwater Springs Christmas (Wild Montana Sky #4.2)

Healing Montana Sky (Wild Montana Sky #5)

Mystic Montana Sky (Wild Montana Sky #6)

Trudy (Mail-Order Brides of the West #1)

Lina (Mail-Order Brides of the West #4)

Darcy (Mail-Order Brides of the West #5)

Find Debra Holland:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Find Lara Asmundson: Website

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