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Posted January 9, 2014
Loveland is a charming tale which is part romance, classic western, and a bit historical fiction to boot. The author’s story begins abruptly with the forced return of the novel’s young heroine, Lady Alexandra “Alex” Calthorpe, to her native homeland of England. The scene is reminiscent of a child being removed from a loving family into someplace horrible like the foster care system. It’s not until well into the book that the reader comes to understand the angst of this scene. Young Alex’s behavior is perhaps a little over wrought, but mostly in character for the novel’s strong-willed heroine.
We then flash forward four years to witness the return of a still young, but more mature Lady Alex returning to the eponymous Colorado cattle ranch. The early chapters are mildly perplexing, but keep calm and read on as all questions are answered, albeit a little slower than I would have preferred.
Alex is a transplant of 1880s Victorian England. Her controlling and unseen father owns the ranch which is run by her ostensibly apathetic uncle. Alex is a forerunning feminist in that she is determined to be independent of any man for her personal and financial security, regardless of any legal constraints directed at women.
As she settles back into life at Loveland, old relationships are quickly re-established— one in particular with ranch hand or “puncher” Jesse Makepeace which, not surprisingly, takes on an amorous dimension. As with many romance novels, it takes a little while for Alex and Jessie who is 10 years older to realize, admit, and acquiesce to their feelings for each other.
The rather large supporting cast could use a bit more development. For instance, Ranch foreman Tom Yost and his wife Annie, while warm and gracious, primarily act as parental advisors to Alex with no substantive sub plot of their own. One notable exception is Miss Bea who runs the town brothel. And while it’s kind of predictable that she and Alex create an unlikely friendship, Miss Bea’s character is fun, bawdy, and full of irreverent wisdom. In some respects she is a better counselor for Alex than the happily married Yosts.
Downing does a good job of keeping various challenges and obstacles in constant supply—not just for the benefit of the romance, but to help readers understand the innate hardships of western history. There is also an abundance of plot twists and turns throughout Loveland which make for a few genuine surprises.
In all, Downing does a nice job of taking a rather formulaic genre to create a well-balanced story which is a definite step up from most classic romance tales. I highly recommend this book for lovers of romance, chick literature, and historical fiction enthusiasts.
Posted November 28, 2013
Lady Alexandra (Alex) Calthorpe has returned from England after disasterous marriage which is annulled to Loveland, Colorado. Lady Alex has fond memories of Double F Ranch because of Annie and Tom Yost, Jesse Makepeace, and Cal. Jesse Makepeace can't believe Lady Alex is back and what beautiful she's become. Lady Alex experiences new feelings when it comes to regarding Jesse that are completely unfamiliar to her. Lady Alex paints what she sees around her snf fighting for her independence from her overbearing father. Jesse doesn't know whether to kiss or give spanking to Lady Alex but can at least admit to himself that he loves her. Will Lady Alex admit her feelings to Jesse? Will Lady Alex's father interfere in her life choices? Will Lady Alex gain her independence? Your answers await you in Loveland.
Loveland is such a beautiful story. I admittedly cried thru several portions of the story that were completely heartbreaking to me. Jesse and Alex's love grew through out the whole book and wasn't haphazardly thrown together. I really identified with many of the elements such as forced relationships or commitments. I thought the characters well written full of depth and rich beyond compare. I look forward to reading more of this author's work.
Posted May 17, 2013
Andrea Downing's Loveland is a historical western romance set in 1880's Colorado during the heyday of the Wild West. The author pays meticulous attention to detail and historical accuracy and manages to recreate the ethos and atmosphere of the era without burdening the story with excessive information. Loveland has a mood rather like "Little House on the Prairie" or maybe "Bonanza", immersing the reader entirely in a time and a place. Additionally, the story moves back and forth between the culture of the old west and Victorian England, creating startling contrasts between the two societies, which serves to reinforce the distinctness of each. My hat is off to the author for her mastery of world building and historical recreation.
The story begins with the return of seventeen-year-old Lady Alex, daughter of an English Duke, to a ranch located in Colorado, managed by her uncle. Headstrong Alex has a complicated and rather tragic back story. Her mother died when she was young, her father has sent her into exile because of a scandal, and no one had ever really loved or wanted her as a child. Gradually, the facts associated with the scandal become clear, and Alex must endure censor from members of the Colorado community who disapprove of her.
Lady Alex spent four years on the ranch in her youth, and grew up as something of a wild child. She loves horses and nature, craves freedom and independence. She has strong bonds with many of the ranch hands, including the hero, Jesse Makepeace, whom she knew between the ages of eight and twelve. The pair start out sharing a strong affection rooted in this bond, which is initially familial, rather like an older brother and younger sister.
Jesse is ten years older than Alex, but he has never married. He begins the story working on the ranch as a hired hand and eventually becomes the manager. As a hero, he embodies every ideal that women love about cowboys. He is strong, courageous, patient, loyal and gentle. He isn't perfect. He has a bit of a temper and suffers from a sweet vulnerability that only increases his appeal, making him seem more accessible. If he were real, he would be an easy man to love.
Downing deftly handles the evolution of the hero and heroine's feelings for one another. Initially, I feared the transition would be rushed, but there was no cause for concern. Loveland's plot spans a period from 1881 to 1889, patiently progressing through rough economic times for the ranch and even tougher emotional trials for the characters.
My only criticism would be that Lady Alex often comes across as emotionally immature and selfish. Of course, her age and circumstances should be taken into consideration. As a seventeen year old, she lacks Jesse's maturity and empathy. She is a girl and not a woman who desperately needs a mother willing to say no. Because she is pretty and precocious, the men in her life indulge her. They are bewildered and befuddled and do not know now to deal with her tantrums. She shouts (paraphrasing here): "Or what? What will you do?" Her uncle is clueless. The mother in me longs to hear: "You're grounded until you behave, child. No more horseback riding and wiling away your life doing whatever you please. You'll do chores. You'll learn there are other people in this world besides you."
Unfortunately, no one ever gives the girl and love and structure that she craves, and so her emotional immaturity serves as the primary source of internal conflict throughout the story. Fortunately, Alex does grow up by the conclusion in time for true love's happy ending.
I do wish to note here that the reader should not interpret my words to mean that the novel is boring. Never. Downing keeps the action moving right along with gunfights, cattle stampedes and even an old west carnival. Loveland is always entertaining. Secondary characters are especially well developed and distinct. Love scenes are sensual. Loveland appears to be Downing's first published novel, which makes it an even more remarkable achievement. This is one of those rare occasions when I'd go higher than five stars and the author truly deserves it.
Posted April 13, 2013
Reviewed by: Babs
Book provided by: Publisher
Review originally posted at Romancing the Book
Lady Alex comes back after being gone for ten years. She is trying to recover from a bad marriage and gain her independence back. She is happy to see most of the old gang still at the job on the ranch. Jessie wants to do what she loves best paint and be an artist. Jesse has realized he is falling for the little girl that is all grown up. He feels he is not good enough for Alex. She comes form a high society family and he is just a ranch worker.
A lovely read to see two people from two different places come together and make things happen. Alex was young when she left the ranch and comes back a nice looking young lady. Watching Alex and Jessie is maddening at times and loving the next.
The author does a great job with the characters and descriptions though out the story. Makes you want to fall in love with a real cowboy. I would love to read more by this author.
Posted December 29, 2012
Posted September 10, 2012
Who could possibly be better qualified to write a story about a beautiful head strong young woman of English aristocracy and a clean cut, spur-jingling American cowboy than Andrea Downing. Downing was born in New York but lived most of her life in England. She finds it hard to explain her years-long obsession with the American West and, indeed, has spent her share of hours on horseback researching the subject.
Whatever the reason for Downing’s obsession, it has paid off well for western romantic fiction lovers everywhere. In her debut novel, Loveland, intricate and often difficult details of the developing relationship between cowpuncher, Jesse Makepeace, and Lady Alexandra Calthorpe are brought to light one page at a time. When Lady Alex is eight years old, she is sent from England to live on her uncle’s vast ranching empire where she is drawn into the adventurous life of the open range and is accepted like a kid sister by the cowpunchers. But, just as Alex begins to think of the ranch as home, she is whisked away back to England without being allowed to tell her beloved cowpunching friends good bye.
She returns to the ranch when she is seventeen years old with a cautious maturity that the cowpunchers find hard to understand, least of all Jesse. As explanations for Lady Alex’s abrupt departure and her troubled life before her return are slowly revealed to the cowpunchers (and readers) it becomes obvious that Jesse and Alex have a bond that is extraordinary even though they are opposites in most aspects. Can Alex and Jesse overcome the cultural and emotional difficulties they experience? Will Alex sacrifice her need for freedom to commit to Jesse? Can he accept her overpowering need to be in control?
Downing addresses each story question with skill and finesse. This is a well written, well told story that is historically correct and ends with a big huge sigh as the last page is turned.
Posted August 30, 2012
Posted September 8, 2012
No text was provided for this review.