Where the Trail Ends

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Title: Where The Trail Ends
Series: An American Tapestry
Author: Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Summerside
Published: October 1, 2012
Pages: 336

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Samantha Waldron and her family must overcome tremendous challenges getting to the Willamette Valley before winter, a place over two thousand miles away. Samantha is anxious to start her new life in an untamed land, but trial after trial makes her question the wisdom and safety of such a long trek. Surviving extreme hunger, thirst, and unpredictability of this new land isn’t easy, but Samantha’s determined to make it to the end despite every roadblock thrown in her way. Until their canoe capsizes and they’re thrown on the mercy of a man who can’t stand the American’s presence in this new land.

Lord Alex Clarke is at Fort Vancouver for one purpose, to oversee the production of furs that his uncle’s company sells. After five years of living in this untamed land he can’t help but dread going home to England, even if he does have a fiancé waiting for him back home. Armed with the opinion that the Americans are stupid to travel and try and tame this wild land, the last thing he expects to happen happens when he has to rescue a woman and child from drowning to death in the fast paced waters of the river outside Fort Vancouver. Now, he just can’t get her out of his head and doesn’t know why, he should be thinking about his fiancé not some woman he just met.

As their affection grows for each other, Samantha is bombarded by men wanting her hand in marriage but she doesn’t want them she wants Alex, but she can’t have him, and Alex is now dreading going home even more and getting married to someone he doesn’t love and hasn’t seen in five years. With the ship soon on its way to take Alex home to England, Samantha becomes even more determined to create a home for herself and her brother and to try and forget the man she loves even if it means she leaves a part of herself behind in the process.

Will Samantha and Alex be able to be together or will past arrangements and life tear them apart? Will Samantha and her brother ever make it to the Willamette Valley or will their dreams be torn from them on the Oregon Trail? Will Alex be able to stay in the land that he’s fallen in love with or will he be forced to go back to a land he no longer feels a part of? Will Alex marry the woman he’s engaged to or the woman he loves?
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Being a new fan to Melanie Dobson, I was excited when I got the opportunity to read this book. From the cover I could tell you that this book was going to be great and it didn’t disappoint. The beginning of this book focused on the challenges of the Oregon Trail and it really connected with me. I knew that they had it rough crossing over two thousand miles to Oregon but I had no idea it was as hard as it was until this book. It dragged me into the story from the first page and kept me there until the very end. The author’s impeccable description made me feel like I was crossing the Oregon Trail alongside the heroine and experiencing what many of our ancestors experienced as the traveled west for a better life.

I do have one disappointment in the book, though. I felt like the romance wasn’t the focal point of the novel, which is what I expected from a novel classified as a romance. For most of the book the main characters haven’t even met yet and when they do, the author spends most of that time delving into their lives as they live at Fort Vancouver. The parts that were romance were great, though, and done in classic Melanie Dobson form, simple and understated, yet completely satisfying. Despite the lack of romance in the novel, I still really enjoyed this novel and I think with a little more romance this book would’ve been a five out of five.

The descriptions in this book are subtle yet give visuals that are so vivid they make you want to jump on a plane and move to Oregon just to experience the beauty that this author describes. The descriptions this author does are one of the many reasons I’m such a fan of hers and why I believe I will be for a long time. She doesn’t waste time by going into long windy detail but somehow her point comes across in a vivid mental image that most authors only aspire to get from their readers. This definitely is her strong suit in writing and makes her stories in a class of their own.

The storyline of this book is a really nice idea and I feel like, minus the lackluster romance, it was executed flawlessly. I’ve read a few Oregon Trail novels, but most of them avoided the trial and tribulations of the Trail and instead candy-coated the struggles and left me feeling empty after the book was over. This author held no punches and wrote it like it happened and because of that I had a strong emotional connection to the heroine and their struggles. The history is throughout it as well, with little hardly known facts about the Oregon Trail, and it enhanced her novel to one that I will remember for a while.

This author made me a fan with Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan and kept me a fan with this novel. I’m now a really big fan and want to read every book she’s ever written. Her story telling is fantastic and her history is always correct and I can always expect a great story from her. She truly has a gift and I fully expect her to be around for a long time. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if someday her books are on a lot of romance readers’ bookshelves, if they aren’t already. I highly recommend this author and am excited to see what else she’s going to come up with in the near future.

Overall, this is a fantastic book that lacks a satisfying romance but is still fantastic. I highly recommend this book for romance lovers, fans of Melanie Dobson, or people who like an understated romance. This book is perfect for adults, teens, even younger readers depending on maturity. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Christian Manifesto in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

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