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Runaway Brides #1

Heartbreak Creek

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First in a wonderful new historical series starring four unlikely brides who make their way West.

Edwina Ladoux hoped becoming a mail-order bride would be her way to a better life, but as soon as she arrives in Breakheart, Colorado, and meets Declan Brodie and his four rambunctious children, she realizes she's made a mistake. Luckily, Edwina and Declan agreed on a three- month courtship period, which should give them time to get the proxy marriage annulled. Except that as the weeks pass, thoughts of annulment turn into hopes for a real marriage-until Declan's first wife suddenly returns.

384 pages, Paperback

First published May 25, 2011

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About the author

Kaki Warner

16 books187 followers
Kaki Warner is an award-winning author and long time resident of the Pacific Northwest. Although she now lives on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, Kaki actually grew up in the Southwest and is a proud graduate of the University of Texas. Her years spent riding horses and enjoying the expansive views of Texas became the Historical Romance Author, Kaki Warner inspiration for the backdrop of her novels - the wide-open spaces of historic New Mexico Territory.

Several years ago after their two children had left for college, Kaki and her husband, Joe, moved from the city to their hilltop cabin overlooking the scenic Methow Valley. Kaki now spends her time gardening, hiking, reading, writing, and soaking in the view from the deck with her husband and floppy-eared hound dog.

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432 (27%)
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692 (43%)
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326 (20%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 165 reviews
Profile Image for Jonetta.
2,183 reviews892 followers
February 12, 2020
Edwina Ladoux has reached the end of the line financially in trying to keep her southern Louisiana family home in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. Unable to pay the back taxes, Edwina made plans to marry a Colorado rancher in response to his ad for a wife. She and her half sister, Prudence (a reluctant participant) embark into the unknown and to say that she was underwhelmed by her new husband is an understatement. Declan Brodie is equally disappointed in the Southern princess that showed up instead of the sturdy woman he was looking for to help raise his four children and take care of his home.

I’m a sucker for a mail order bride story as it always holds the promise of two people determined to make the relationship work. Despite their initial disappointment with each other, Edwina and Declan have strong incentives to make their marriage a real and loving one. Both have strong personalities though he’s more taciturn in behavior, which made for an even more interesting romance. The children are wild and untrained so Edwina has her work cut out for her as she also doesn’t know much about cooking (thank goodness for Pru).

Historical fiction stories set in western America are also one of my favorites and the beauty and wildness of Colorado are on showcase here. It’s as much a part of the story as the characters. It’s not all romantic interplay and humor as Declan has trouble with a rogue Cheyenne native who is out to destroy his family. Danger is always in the background and there are some tough, frightening scenes and situations.

This story had so many wonderful elements that I was completely captivated. There’s a lot going on but I couldn’t get enough of everything. The two women Edwina meets and befriends upon her arrival in Heartbreak Creek are the focus of the next two books and they are equally well defined and intriguing. I’m reading this series with a group and we can hardly wait to start the next two books.

Posted on Blue Mood Café
Profile Image for Jill.
600 reviews1,377 followers
July 7, 2011
4.5 stars

After the devastation of the Civil War that has left her beloved Rose Hill Plantation, Louisiana in ruins, widow Edwina Ladoux and her sister Prudence have few prospects. Forced to sell her ancestral home, Edwina answers an advertisement for a mail-order bride in the Colorado Territory. Declan Brodie is a widower and rancher, and desperate for a sturdy wife to help with chores and his four unruly children. Unfortunately for Edwina she's not sturdy and knows nothing of cooking or children.

Married by proxy, Edwina and Prudence board the train to Heartbreak Creek. Travelling with them are two other young women, Lucinda and Maddie, who no doubt will get their own stories, along with Prudence in upcoming books.

What I like about this novel is it isn't lust at first sight. Declan and Ed make a journey towards their happily-ever-after. In fact, on their first night travelling to his ranch, Declan on seeing that Edwina can do next to nothing, offers her position to Prudence -

"'How about we send her back and you stay on?" he offered."

Opposites like Declan and Ed (as Declan names her), are always fun to watch falling slowly and deeply for each other. Declan is physically imposing, tall and hulking, rough around the edges and not much of a talker. Gently-reared Ed, a Southern belle, is not who Declan thought he was getting for a bride. But Ed has heart and courage and is adaptable. They fall in love realistically over time, living in close quarters and seeing the strengths in the other.

As much as Edwina has married Declan, she has also married his children. Children in any romance (or any story for that matter) can be difficult to write. How do you depict children that are not whiny, spiteful, too cute, or downright annoying? True, Declan's children are undisciplined and without manners, but Kaki Warner has given them each a personality and importantly, likability.

A small gripe, although this has nothing to do with the actual story. The blurb spills the beans that Declan is not a widower afterall. His first wife makes a reappearance. I wish that I could have discovered that for myself. It just seeems that an interesting twist to the story was disclosed unnecessarily.

Heartbreak Creek is a great story, beautifully written with dollops of wonderful humour.

"She had hoped to avoid telling him this, but he had a right to know the truth, and if this marriage was to work, there must be no secrets between them. "The thing is, I'm fairly certain madness runs in our family."
He didn't seem surprised, which was a little insulting.
She pressed on anyway. "And although I love children and would have liked to have my own, I don't want to pass down tainted blood."
"Who's mad?"
"My cousin Tremont for one. He's partial to ball gowns. Aunt Queenie giggles constantly, and another cousin carries a stuffed cat with him wherever he goes. And perhaps my mother."

A fantastic historical western romance. The best I've read this year.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Lisa Kay.
924 reviews505 followers
August 12, 2011
Blake Shelton, as Declan Brodie.

★★★★½ What a wonderful read! I just love a good western and this one is great. Kaki Warner is a new-to-me-author and I have to say, she delivered. By the end of this book I felt I really knew these characters. I found plenty of pain, grief and drama here; but, there was also unexpected humor, joy, love and growth in the depths of these amazing people.

For probably the first time in Edwina Ladoux’s life, she steps out from behind her protective half-sister’s petticoats and decides to take the bull by the horns. Even if that bull is in Colorado! It is five years after the Civil War; Edwina has admitted defeat and finally sold her family’s Louisiana plantation. She wants to find a place where there is not so much hatred and strife – and where her half Negro sister, Prudence Lincoln, and she can feel safe. She’s off to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado, to become a mail-order bride to one, Declan Brodie, who has four children, an isolated ranch, and several of his own demons to fight.

To say Edwina’s sister, Pru, is better suited for the role is an understatement. Along the way (on the train – it’s a western! ) they meet two other women; cynical Lucinda Hathaway, a Yankee (poor thing), and Madeline “Maddie” Wallace, a cheerful English photographer in America determined to capture the Wild West in black and white. All of them are starring in upcoming novels by Ms. Warner. The dialogue between these ladies is wonderful, and the sisters’ loving relationship realistic. The kids are not too precocious. And Declan? Well, he is perfect as written. Here is a bit of dialogue between him and Edwina’s sister, Pru:
”How about we send her back and you stay on?” he offered.

She almost smiled. “You thinking to marry me now, Mr. Brodie?”

“Hell, no. I’ve already got one wife too many. But I’ll pay you.”

“To do what?”

“Cook. Clean. Ride herd on my kids. Tend a garden.”

“Pay me how? You just said you have no money.”

“Shares on the cattle.”

The smile broke into a chuckle. “I need cattle like you need another wife, Mr. Brodie. No, you strive for patience and give me time to train her.”
You can see Declan falling in love as he goes from calling Edwina “Miss Priss” to “Ed”. Oh, and he has a half Cheyenne Indian friend, Thomas Redstone, who is just perfect for Pru. I mean, Edwina and I can see that, why can’t she? It will be fun to see why each of these women earns the label of a “Runaway Bride” in a series by the same name. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next one, Colorado Dawn, coming out in January, 2012.

Jay Tavare, as Thomas Redstone.

*My thanks to my GoodReads friend, Jill, in Australia, for this recommendation. You did it again and picked another winner for me!
**My special thanks to my GoodReads friend and “Buddy Read” partner, Sans, for helping me cast ♥Declan♥ and ♥Thomas♥. **sigh** And your intelligent observations on life. :)

Heartbreak Creek (Runaway Brides #1) by Kaki Warner Colorado Dawn (A Runaway Brides Novel) by Kaki Warner
Profile Image for KatLynne.
547 reviews556 followers
March 1, 2015
Honest, hard-working widower, age thirty-three, seeks sturdy English speaking woman to help with mountain ranch and four children. Drinkers, whores and gamblers need not apply.

With an add like that and the intrigue of a mail-order-bride I couldn't resist:)

Widow Edwina Ladaux is leaving all behind of her childhood home in the war torn south and moving more than 1000 miles away to become the mail-order-bride of rancher, Declan Brodie. Destitute, down trodden and with her entire way of life gone, she is in need of a new start. Her only stipulation is that they give themselves three months to become acquainted before consumating the marriage.

Declan is a widower spending most of his days tending to his ranch. He's in desperate need for help with his four rambunctious children along with someone to cook, clean and tend his home. He's looking for a stout, farm woman. What he gets is a southern belle whose best skills are dancing, flirting, and sewing. Can she be the help he needs? Her saving grace is that she's brought along her half-sister Pru, who is more than capable of teaching her all that is necessary.

This is the first book in the Runaway Brides series and my first book by this author. I loved both the hero and heroine, the secondary characters and the laugh out loud moments.

A poignant, sweet, warm romance that I enjoyed and look forward to more by this author.
Profile Image for TJ.
2,650 reviews155 followers
February 8, 2012
For anyone who enjoys a really good Western romance minus the "howdy's" and constant show-downs but with an honest, realistic view of the lives and people who (sparsely) populated places within that West, will absolutely love this sweet and wonderful story. Lest one think it might be somewhat dull, however ("no shoot-em-ups?" *gasp*!) there is plenty of conflict and a suspenseful ending that rivals any main-street showdown.

Edwina, a Southern Belle to her very core, who, after struggling fruitlessly to keep her family plantation following the devastation of the civil war, is faced with bankruptcy and bigotry. With no where left to turn, Edwina accepts the offer to become a mail-order bride to a widower with four children in Colorado. Hauling her sister along, Edwina sets out to change their lives - hopefully for the better. When she discovers the huge, somewhat taciturn man who is her husband, however, she seriously questions her sanity, along with her future.

What follows is an absolutely delightful and heart-touching account of how two people - vastly different in every way - learn to accept, appreciate and slowly, to love. Declan Brody's character is the perfect example of a Western rancher of that era. He talks only when it's needful, doesn't mince words when he does and expects people to use their common sense to deal with life's challenges. These traits can drive, not only Edwina, but the reader to distraction. One wants to rip some conversation out of his mouth at times, especially when Edwina is working so hard to make their marriage succeed. Her fortitude and determination in spite of the challenges is amazing and inspiring. She faces even the most daunting of situations forthrightly and endeavors to do well. I absolutely loved her!

I do believe the story would have been much better if the synopsis hadn't given away a huge spoiler in the storyline. To have suddenly seen Declan's first wife show up out of the blue right along with Declan would have allowed readers a well of emotion that was taken away because we already knew it was coming. The predictability in that and a few other situations is the only downside to an otherwise pitch perfect Western romance.
Profile Image for Linda .
1,795 reviews249 followers
December 20, 2011
This is my first Kaki Warner romance that I read and it won't be my last. Do I dare call the story 'yummy'? How about heartwarming yet steamy? Rarely have I read a historical western that keeps me wanting more. Edwina Brodie comes to Heartbreak Creek to meet her husband-by-proxy, Declan. Beside her is her half-sister Pru and two other ladies she's met on her journey.

Edwina and Declan Brodie do not get along when they first meet. She's from the old south, having survived The Civil War. His first wife took off and left him to raise four children. She's too thin, he's too big. Her comments are sharp, he doesn't talk enough. She doesn't know how to cook, he needs to take a bath. The entire family butts heads. But what if I tell you this is OK? In fact it is wonderful to have this bantering, it adds an edginess to the romance.

At 362 pages, the story flows. Declan and 'Ed', as he affectionately calls her, slowly change for the better. They want this marriage to succeed. You'll see imperfections among all the characters but there are plenty of humorous moments. There is also some action when a renegade Arapaho comes to town for revenge. As their story is laid out you will still hunger for the untold stories of the other ladies, something for another day.

If there is one complaint that I had it was that the H & H could have communicated a little better towards the end but it wasn't enough to change my rating of five stars. I look forward to more of this series. COLORADO DAWN is the second in this series and will be released in early 2012. BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY is the third book and will be available during the summer of 2012. In the meantime I will search for her previous series, The Blood Rose trilogy. If Kaki Warner continues to write like she did in this story she is a winner.
123 reviews17 followers
March 1, 2013
I loved the writing, and thoroughly enjoyed the first 1/3 of the book. Then the pace slowed down and I ended up skimming the remaining parts.

So, even though it was a good story, I'll have to stick to my rules: if the author can't hold my interest and I start skipping, it has to be two stars only.

There were a few aspects that did not work so well for me:

Although Edwina loved her sister, she had always relied on Prue to take care of her. In the five years since the war, despite the fact that they had no money, Edwina could not cook or do household chores. This implies that she had treated Prue like a servant.

And yet, once they get to Declan's ranch, within a couple of weeks Edwina has mastered housekeeping, despite the primitive conditions. It seems puzzling that she learns everything so fast - and if she does have the aptitude, why didn't she do her share before but left everything to Prue?

Declan and Edwina had agreed to a three month trial period, but after a couple of weeks she wants to make the marriage real. Her lack of worry about the future, and her eagerness to consummate the marriage seem a little unrealistic. It is nicely shown how the physical attraction grows between them, but I would not have expected her to cast aside all her concerns so easily - as it is, her biggest worry seems to be that her breasts are not "pointy".

When Declan's first wife is found as an Indian captive, sick and dying after four years of torture, Declan decides to divorce her. She was his wife for a decade and bore him four children, but he tells himself she is in the past. Edwina, whom he has known for a month, is the future.

To me, the act lacks honor. Divorce was extremely rare in those days. People might be unfaithful, but they remained married. Yes, Sally had wanted to leave him, but I got the impression that Declan had neglected her during the marriage. I would have expected him to feel a lot greater guilt, a lot more sympathy for her suffering. Now, when her first words to him are "Four years and you never came for me" it is implied that she is callous because she doesn't ask about her children.

Those would have been my first words too. And, Sally might have found it far too painful to ask about her children. And I expect she wouldn't have wanted them to see her until she had a chance to clean up.

Also, it bothered me that the Indians captured and tortured Prue. It seemed to me that Edwina earned her happiness through the suffering of other women, and this made me like her less.

I did enjoy the writing and will try other books in the series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sandra Hoover.
1,171 reviews186 followers
February 14, 2020
Books like Heartbreak Creek are the reason I've fallen head over heels with historical western romance! Warner has quickly become one of my favorite Western authors. Her writing flows like water out of a mountain canyon - saturating everything in its path including my heart & soul. Heartbreak Creek is just magic - a fantastic story with characters that will make you feel a range of emotions as you walk every step with them. And the laughter . . . omg. I don't remember a book making me laugh this much before, and it's all due to the heroine Edwina. Her character is hilarious in speech & actions. She's all spunk and sass - no wilting violets here - just a rip-roaring good time and a fantastic story. It's western romance perfection hitting on all cylinders. Needless to say, I loved this book and can't wait to continue the series! Highly recommended to everyone!
Profile Image for Regan Walker.
Author 30 books754 followers
June 14, 2022
Great 1st in the Brides Trilogy, a Must Read Western!

First in the Brides trilogy (Heartbreak Creek, Colorado Dawn and Bride of the High Country), and set in Colorado in 1870, this is the story of Edwina Ladoux, “the once reigning belle of Sycamore Parish” in Louisiana, now a widow, who because of circumstances decides to become a mail order bride to a man described as an “honest, hard-working widower” seeking a “sturdy English-speaking woman” to help with his ranch and 4 children.

Edwina doubted she could be considered “sturdy,” but decided to proceed nonetheless. In her own words, “She might be leaping from the fat into the fire, but at least for that brief moment she hung suspended between the two, she would be totally free.” How could you not like a woman who would take a leap like that? Especially when she drags her older sister, Pru, along with her for this adventure into the unknown. Like several of Warner’s latest novels, this one features a train ride (to Colorado) and names like Damnation Creek—I loved them.

It gets more interesting as we learn that Pru is Edwina’ half sister and her mother was black. Pru is a beautiful, accomplished woman who is self-educated and able to care for both Edwina and herself. Both Pru and Edwina have a past that still affects them. Our hero, Declan Brodie, is a man of few words who is overwhelmed by his sprawling ranch and his four children. He also has a past that haunts him—his first wife left him for another man and Indians killed both.

Edwina thinks of Declan as a “great lump” due to his size. He calls her Miss Priss and then “Ed,” which she likes better. He has agreed to her terms—to give her a few months without consummating the marriage to see if they are compatible. Initially it seems they are not when he learns she can’t cook and she imposes rules on the children that have them bristling, but then Declan begins to admire other things about her. I loved their conversations and sparing. I loved the way Warner had the exasperated man cursing in his mind. She captures the male point of view so well.

Warner plunks you down into the late 19th century American frontier with ranchers, Indians, freed slaves and others trying to build a new life. And we are introduced to the other “brides” in the trilogy so read this them in order.

The dialog is realistic and rich, the characters varied and well drawn and the plot is intriguing and exciting. Spread over all this like chocolate shavings over cake frosting is Warner’s dry wit. Simply delicious.
Profile Image for Lyuda.
538 reviews134 followers
July 10, 2015
“Honest, hard-working widower, age thirty-three, seeks sturdy English-speaking woman to help with mountain ranch and four children. Drinkers, whores, and gamblers need not apply”.
The year is 1870 America. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And Edwina Ladoux, a widow and a former southern belle, is desperate. Her husband perished in the Civil War, her father killed when Yankees invaded their plantation, her home is in ruins, and there is no money to pay property taxes, so everything would be auctioned out. More importantly, she fears for her and her half-sister safety from both returning dispirited Southern solders and carpetbagger Yankees. Answering the advertisement for a mail-order bride and marring by proxy seems to be the only solution available to her. With her resolve strong and unwavering, Edwina and her sister boarded a train and headed west to Colorado. This resolve was sorely tasted when she finally meets her huge, dour, unsmiling, uncommunicative husband Declan. An ex-sheriff turned rancher, Declan is dismayed. The thin exhausted woman is definitely not a farm wife he expected. She could not even cook and also brought with her another mouth to feed! He couldn’t even picture her surviving the antics and pranks of his four spirited children! But with the proxy papers signed, traveling money spent, they would just have to build their new life as best as they could.
I love-love the characters! Their interactions, inner thoughts, their budding head to head, their slow falling in love were both exciting and heartfelt. And these children had such an enduring, unique personalities.
The plot had so many twists and turns and unexpected events, that I was never bored. Some of the turns were not for a fainted heart. The sense of place, times were so vivid that I felt like an insider, as part of the story.
If you like historical western romance, don’t miss this wonderful book. It’s the first in the three part Runaway Brides series and I will be definitely checking the next one in the series.
Profile Image for MBR.
1,200 reviews373 followers
July 10, 2011
Heartbreak Creek is book one in the series Runaway Brides by author Kaki Warner. Recommended by my friend Jill on Goodreads, I needed no further urging as I am a huge fan of American Western romances. From the very start, the concept of 4 women who find love in the most unexpected places grabbed me and held me enthralled as each of the characters wormed their way into my heart, telling a story that would linger with me for the time to come.

Heartbreak Creek brings the story of 26 year old Edwina Whitney Ladoux from Southeastern Louisiana who makes her way towards Heartbreak Creek of Colorado as a mail-order bride for Robert Declan Brodie, a man she has never laid eyes on. Knowing that there was nothing worth staying around in war ravaged Louisiana for her and her half-sister Pru, Edwina makes the journey that brings her that much closer to the reality of marriage the second time round.

33 year old Declan is a widow who has his hands full looking after 4 children and managing his ranch which is a full-time job in itself. Knowing that his children require a mother's touch, Declan is expecting a sturdy farm woman who can take charge of his family and instead finds himself married to the reigning belle of Sycamore Parish once upon a time.

Though Edwina dreads the thought of marriage to anyone and feels like fleeing from what she has gotten herself into, with Pru to help things along, Edwina finds herself drawn into the lives of her strong and silent husband and his children who tug at her heartstrings right from the very start. For a woman who has had a disappointing experience with intimacy, Edwina finds herself fascinated with how her body yearns for things it cannot voice, a desire that seems to be reciprocated by the man with whom she is bound to share her life till death does them apart.

For Declan, Edwina is the direct opposite of the mother of his children, who betrayed him and their children in the worst way possible, his heart and emotions encased in a block of ice afterwards which had begun to thaw in Edwina's energetic presence. But peace and happiness in their lives seems to be elusive as an old enemy hunts them down with vengeance and death on his mind for all he has lost, a man that Declan knows wouldn't give up until only one of them is left standing. And when Declan's dead wife turns up unexpectedly, both Declan and Edwina must fight harder than ever to truly win the battle of their hearts once and for all which lends this story that emotional wrangling quality that I just love.

Kaki Warner tells a great story somewhat similar in style to that of Ellen O'Connell whose American-Western romances are to die for. Heartbreak Creek introduces us to the very intriguing four ladies whose stories sound equally enticing with Edwina's story laying the foundation of this delectable series. Declan is the strong and silent warrior type of hero beneath whose tough and stoic mask lies an endearing sense of humor which made me fall head over heels in love with him from the very beginning.

Edwina is the type of protective heroine who stands firm in what she believes in, who fights for those whom she loves and that makes for an appealing heroine all around. The sexual tension and awareness that slowly creeps into Declan and Edwina's life is sizzling hot and well-done and though there aren't much detailed love scenes included, it still manages to satisfy the cravings of the reader.

With heart pounding acts of violence thats the reality of life in the western frontier and tender scenes of love, Kaki Warner seems to have struck gold with this enticing series, book 2 of which I will definitely be stalking in the time to come.

Recommended highly for fans of the genre. This is one series you ought not miss.

Memorable Quotes

She drew in an exasperated breath, and suddenly her senses exploded with the essence of Declan, his heat, the smell of soap, horses ... him. Her body instantly reacted - her heartbeat quickening, her skin tingling, her thoughts scattering like some addlepated adolescent sneaking her first kiss under the pawpaw tree.


Original review posted on MBR's Realm of Romance
Profile Image for Mimi Smith.
393 reviews118 followers
August 15, 2014
4 stars

The ad

Honest, hard-working widower, age thirty-three, seeks sturdy English speaking woman to help with mountain ranch and four children. Drinkers, whores and gamblers need not apply.

A charming marriage proposal, for sure. It goes to show how desperate Edwina was, since she responded. Even though she's not exactly sturdy. Or much of a help on the farm or with children. She's led a rather sheltered life, but to make things better she's willing to marry a stranger and travel with her half-black sister to a strange land.

Declan Brodie is, as his add says a widower looking for a wife to help him with his ranch and children. What he's not looking for is a young, foul-mouthed girl who has no practical skills to speak of. No, wait-she can sew. But, he married her and there's nothing to be done now. And who knows, she might prove to be useful after all. What he didn't predict was that he'd fall in love with her, against his better sense.

About those 4 children-they're demons. Demons, I tell you! I truly felt for Ed, she really is trying, the poor thing. And she's bound and determined to teach them some manners. Good luck with that, girl! I got to like them a lot, even though they are pranksters. They're unique and in need of a mother. The kids are Brin, R.D, Joe Bill and Lucas...

After an extended period of squirming and throat clearing, Chick began in a voice worthy of any pulpit, “O Lord, before you send us wretched sinners and Godless heathens into the fiery pit of hell to burn forever in the crackling flames of eternal damnation, we ask that—”
“Pa,” Brin cried, eyes round with terror, “I don’t wanna go!”
“Me, neither!”
“What’s a heathen?”
Pandemonium erupted.

“Do they have dolls in there?” she asked, instead.
“I thought I might get one for Brin. When Pru and I were cleaning out the children’s quarters, we noticed she didn’t have one.”
“She did at one time, I think. But as I recall, she and Joe Bill tied it to a stake and burned it.”
“I wonder who thought that one up,” Edwina murmured."

Declan's first wife was an adulteress, who left them and was then kidnapped by Indians and was supposedly killed. Now, one of my complaints was the fact that we learn that she comes back in the synopsis. So, the whole book I was aware of it and waiting for it to happen.

All in all, I liked this book. It was easy to read and the romance was sweet. A bit more about Declan&Ed

Ah . . . vanity. Edwina understood it well, having suffered her fair share of that vice and all the fears that came along with it. How gratifying to know that her perfect sister had her worries, too. “I know what you mean,” she murmured in sympathy. “I was worried about my flat bosom, too. But when I asked Declan about it, he said it didn’t matter.”
Pru looked up. “You discussed your bosom with Mr. Brodie?”
“Of course I did. If it was going to upset him that they weren’t pointy, I needed to know before we . . . you know.”

Ed's a hoot :)

Profile Image for Leona.
1,722 reviews18 followers
February 27, 2017
Did not like the pacing or the character development. Too may gaping holes at the conclusion of the story. I recognize it's a series, but there were still too many open threads.
Profile Image for Anne OK.
3,436 reviews443 followers
August 12, 2011
Another absolute winner with the first book in Kaki Warner's second series. Great characters, great dialogue that can take you from laughter to tears in only moments, and an all-around wonderful western reading experience.
Profile Image for Aoi.
769 reviews74 followers
October 9, 2013
4.5 Stars

Honest, hard-working widower, age thirty-three, seeks sturdy English speaking woman to help with mountain ranch and four children. Drinkers, whores and gamblers need not apply.

Charming, isn't it?

Edwina Ladoux is that desperate to leave her old way of life behind and tie her fortunes to a husband she's never met. Her beloved 'Old South'destroyed post the Civil war- she is left destitute, the verbal attacks on her coloured half-sister Prudence increasing- she wants to make a new start with Colorado rancher Declan Brodie.

Declan is widower worked to the bone running his ranch, doing the chores and keeping his four children in line. He wants a hardy and capable wife to tend to his hearth and home. what is gets however, is a southern belle whose prime skills include dancing, flirting and parlour tricks.

With their expectations at odds with each other, the first days on marriage are not easy for Edwina and Declan. She doesn't know what quite to make of her hulking and reticent husband. Living in close quarters, sharing daily intimacies they slowly fall in love (just as the mail-order brides of old did).

Kaki Warner writes this heartwarming tale with her trademark sparkling prose. The conversations between Edwina, Prudence, Lucinda and Maddie (our future heroines) are not to be missed. And the children were a hoot! Writing a love story with 4 kids could cramp anybody's style, but the author made them all the more real and endearing. Some of the happenings, I almost fell off my chair laughing..

“Fine. Now serve the damn stew.”
“Pa said a cuss word,” Brin crowed. “He has to eat slops!”

After an extended period of squirming and throat clearing, Chick began in a voice worthy of any pulpit, “O Lord, before you send us wretched sinners and Godless heathens into the fiery pit of hell to burn forever in the crackling flames of eternal damnation, we ask that—”
“Pa,” Brin cried, eyes round with terror, “I don’t wanna go!”
“Me, neither!”
“What’s a heathen?”
Pandemonium erupted.

A real winner of a book!
Profile Image for Shabby Girl ~ aka Lady Victoria.
538 reviews78 followers
November 24, 2014
This is a first time author for me, and I really enjoyed the experience. I love westerns, both contemporary, but especially historical, and they're so hard to find. It doesn't seem to be a genre written in at present, which is probably why I was over the moon Catherine Anderson had a new historical western out recently with more come come, yay!

I had a bit of trouble liking the heroine for a while, but she came good over time and the hero was just wonderful. It does help also that this is a mail order bride book, which I love because a well-written marriage of convenience is right up there for me. The secondary characters were interesting, some more than others, and I'm looking forward to some future books I can see happening, especially Maddie and her Scot husband, and Pru and Thomas.

I'll definitely be moving onto the next books in this series as well as other books by this author. She writes them how I like them, at least going by this book.
Profile Image for Jenny E.
391 reviews42 followers
April 23, 2012
I overall enjoyed this book, but I'm only giving it 3 stars because the ending was too abrupt and there were too many things left unresolved. Plus, I just couldn't fathom how Declan would not contact her for five weeks after the funeral. Some things just didn't make sense to me. And geez, the fade to black after all the UST was just disappointing. The book was enjoyable to read, but it left me wanting (in more ways than one!) and while the next book might clear up some stuff, it still opens a whole new story and it will be in a different POV, so yeah, a little disappointed at the end. An epilogue or a few more pages would have been nice!
Profile Image for Mandi.
2,299 reviews722 followers
July 22, 2011
Edwina Ladoux has endured some tough times. Living in southern Louisiana, she was once the bell of the town, Growing up privileged and frivolous, but then the civil war came and now that the war is done, she has nothing left. No family, except for her half-sister Pru whom she is very close with. With no money, and her once beautiful house turned over to the bank, Edwina doesn’t have a lot of options. She sees in the paper an ad that catches her eye. A Mr. Declan Brodie from Heartbreak Creek, Colorado is in need of a wife to help him on his ranch and take care of his four children. Feeling desperate and a little wild, Edwina answers the ad. They get married by proxy before they even meet each other. Edwina marries him on two conditions. One, they must wait three months before their marriage is consummated, and two, she must be able to bring Pru with her.

She soon takes the journey of a lifetime to Colorado and meets her future husband, his crazy kids, and then has to learn to actually clean, cook, and be a wife.

Heartbreak Creek starts a new series by Kaki Warner. I loved her previous western series, Blood Rose and was very excited to get my hands on this book. I have to say, I love this one even more than her previous books. It is so well written, with such likable, warm and funny characters, and enough action and romance to make this book all around wonderful.

When Edwina first is introduced to her husband, she mistakes him for a ranch helper, not her actual husband. One of the townspeople refers to him as “Big Bob” and he is aloof and she thinks – a little dense.

“How did you get your name?” she asked in near desperation. “Big Bob is…unusual.” Surely his parents wouldn’t have named him that.

He turned his head and frowned at her.

Edwina frowned back, unable to decide what lay behind that flat stare. Amusement? Interest? Nothing?

“Well,” he finally said, facing the road again. “I’m big.”

Edwina gasped. “Are you? I hadn’t noticed.”

From here these two kind of butt heads. Although Edwina was raised to be a gently bred lady, she is not afraid to try new things. She may not know how to cook and raise kids (this is where Pru’s guidance greatly comes in) but she wants to learn. Although the thought of living with this stranger terrifies her, she has nothing to go back to. She is so quick witted, she really made me laugh a lot in this book.

Declan (his middle name happens to be Robert, hence the “Big Bob”) is really a sweetheart. It just takes awhile for that side to come out.He doesn’t talk a lot, and has so much going on with his kids and his ranch. His wife died four years ago and there are unresolved circumstances surrounding her death. The last few months of their marriage has him quite scared to marry again. But he has no choice with four kids to take care of. He was expecting a sturdy woman to help him with chores, and instead he gets a very thin woman who can’t even cook dinner. But he quickly realizes she is feisty, and willing to learn. And with the calming prescience of Pru there to train her, all falls into place. Before he knows it he is in love, and it is just the sweetest thing ever. Declan really stole my heart.

While Kaki Warner never puts explicit sex scenes in her books (I weep – kidding – not really), the romance is still very present in this book. Edwina has been married before, but her sexual encounter with her husband didn’t go off very well, and then he was shipped off to war. So she is terrified she may not live up to Declan’s expectations. Plus she is obsessed that her chest is not “pointy” enough:

“It’s me.” Battling an urge to weep, Edwina planted her elbows on the table and dropped her head into her hands. “Men have never found me attractive. Probably because I’m not pointy.”


“Here we go,” Pru murmured.

Her romance with Declan starts very slow and Kaki Warner teases us with these sexy looks between the two of them and Declan’s promise for what is to come in the bedroom gets Edwina (and me) in a tizzy.

“Good evening, Declan,” she called to him.

His head came up. For a moment, he went utterly still. Then as she started down toward him, his lips parted on a deep breath. He didn’t smile, nor did his expression betray his thoughts, but she saw his big hands tighten on the hat brim until the edge curled in his fingers.

“Ed,” he said.

That’s all. Just Ed. But hearing it spoken in his deep voice, and feeling the impact of that dark, unwavering stare made her feel more beautiful than she ever had.

I really wish we could have gotten to actually see what happens in the bedroom. We get a quick glimpse (more than her previous series), but they are pretty much fade to black sex scenes. These two have such great chemistry in the book, I would have loved to have more descriptive sex scenes. I’m greedy, what can I say.

Declan also has an Indian after him, who he had put in jail years ago when he was Sherriff of Heartbreak Creek. The Indian wants revenge, and Declan knows his new wife and kids are in danger. There was just enough of this villain in the book to bring in some nice suspense.

Pru has a little side romance going of her own, and she is also half-black (her and Edwina share the same father). The color of her skin comes into play as it would in 1870. I really like her – she is very stoic and put together on the outside but we get small glimpses into her insecurities.

We also briefly meet Lucinda and Maddie who I assume will be two future heroines in the series. Lucinda has secrets and I can’t wait to learn more about her. Maddie’s Scottish husband went off to war five years ago, and has only wrote two letters. She loves to talk about her sex life with him before he left, usually embarrassing everyone around her. I love her and I believe the next book in the series features her and her long lost husband.

Heartbreak Creek is such a good book!!! I couldn’t stop smiling when I read this and even called my mom and my friends and told them to kindle it immediately. Everything came together – the romance is sweet and sexy, the characters are funny and warm, and the action added a bit of drama. Overall, this book is just fabulous.

Rating: A-
Profile Image for Kristiej.
1,200 reviews72 followers
July 11, 2011
I have to be honest and say Going in this book already had me. I read and adored her previous series and I love Westerns.
And I was right! I loved the story of Declan and Edwina or Ed as Declan affectionately calls her.

As a widower with four children, Declan is desperate for help and has sent for a mail order bride. Edwina, however, isn't quite what he was expecting. She had grown up the pampered daughter in the South whose life was changed forever by the war. She's pretty helpless when it comes to taking care of hearth and home. But she is more than willing to learn with the help of her half sister Pru, the daughter of Ed's father and her Mammie.

Although Edwina isn't what Declan expected, he can't help but be charmed by her joy in life. Declan hasn't had much joy in his life and Ed brings much needed lightness to his life. And after her initial hesitation about Declan and this mail order business, Ed sees what a descent man and loving father Declan is.

I finished this endearing book in no time and now I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series.

Ms. Warner just recently won a RITA for best first book and I thought it well deserved. She continues this trend of emotional well written stories with Heartbreak Creek.
Profile Image for Rbeey.
52 reviews98 followers
February 17, 2013
Ms.Warner's Voice is imposingly direct Sweet ,firm,lovely &without no regret! I'm living 4 it..yeahhhh!I must say that its with great unspeakable Joy & honor 2 have Read such a wonderful heartfelt story as: Heart Break Creek.bravoo!!! Ms. Warner I'm new 2 ur work but I must say you've captured the very Souls/essence of the people of Heart Break Creek..((sigh)).I know these people.The characters take me back 2 a Special fond place, a time,push back 2 rewind then now..OOH wow l@@k how U blow my mind!Ur voice is definitely needed ,cherished, desired Because u did bring some nice hot fire..yep.Through U these characters should Indeed speak expressively freely boldly Borne created simply just being themselves. Lastly I'd like to say I love ur Realness,ur sense of humor,ur wisdom is on wicked Point.((hug,hug))Plezze continue 2 stir up ur wonderful Gift also 4ever immortally share it with us on the Romantic pages & our hearts!! ThanQ..ooh I cant wait 2 find out more about Thomas ,Pru & the rest of the town folk of Heartbreak Creek they R own my mind N my heart always!Thanx again ur truly a true Romantics friend..
June 12, 2012
Profile Image for Jacqueline J.
3,462 reviews312 followers
July 18, 2013
3-1/2 stars. I enjoyed this second try at Kaki Warner better than the first. Love the mail order bride trope. I felt that the time frame was just a bit fast but the emotional development was pretty good. The author made a pretty reasonable effort to set it firmly in time and place. I enjoyed the relationship between the two main female characters. I did feel that Edwina learned all she needed to know to become a farm wife just a bit too easily but the main thrust of the story was the conflict with the rogue Arapaho so I guess that foreshortened bit of story was acceptable. All in all a pretty solid old west read.
Profile Image for Leslie.
354 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2011
Many of you know how much I love a good western romance. After reading and enjoying Ms. Warner's Blood Rose trilogy, to say I was looking forward to her newest release was putting it mildly. One of my absolute favorite romance tropes is the mail-order-bride trope. If I read a blurb mentioning mail-order-bride, I'm there. For me, it's the ultimate in the romantic fantasy of trusting in fate and falling in love.

Southern belle Edwina Ladoux has lost just about everything. Her home, almost all of her family and her way of life. But she's ready to start a new life as the mail-order-bride of a man she only knows through his letters. Along with her best friend and half-sister Prudence (Pru), they head west. Edwina is a woman who can give the outward appearance of a delicate and proper lady but when she wants something she can be as stubborn as a mule! Edwina and Delcan don't make the best first impressions on each other. She thinks he's too big and too rough and he thinks she has some crazy ideas.

Declan Brodie is rough around the edges with a sweet and gentle inside. He loves his four rambunctious children and he loves his ranch. But he can't run a ranch and take care of the kids and the house too. Declan is nothing if not practical so he advertises in the Matrimonial News no less.

Honest, hard-working widower, age thirty-three, seeks sturdy English-speaking woman to help with mountain ranch and four children. Drinkers, whores, and gamblers need not apply.

How could Edwina possibly pass up a request like that? Except Ed, as Declan calls her, after first calling her Miss Priss, Declan doesn't think Ed has what it takes to take care of the children and house. He thinks she's too fragile and she can't even cook! Imagine! LOL Good think Pru is there to cook and teach Ed. Declan's impression of Ed slowly changes as he watches her take on the task of corralling his children's wild ways and learning about ranch life.

Ed and Declan were so very good together! They tease and irritate each other while they're busy checking each other out. I loved how Warner developed the romance, letting Ed and Declan discover that their first impressions only showed the surface and there was a lot more going on underneath. There's one scene where Declan realizes that he doesn't just need a wife, he needs Ed. For Ed, she not only fell in love with Declan, she also fell in love with his children which was important since the are so much a part of him. Some of the best scenes were with Ed and the children. These kids had personality and certainly added humor and emotion to the story.

The secondary characters that populate the town of Heartbreak Creek are a wonderful mix of typical small town folk and a couple of newcomers who liven the place up. Maddie Wallace and Lucinda Hathaway arrived on the same train as Ed and Pru. The four women become fast friends and share advice, experience and encouragement on their new lives. I know we'll see much more of both Maddie and Lucinda in coming books.

Ranch life isn't easy but for Declan and Ed, it's made even more difficult with a crazy man out to get revenge against Declan. Looking back, there was a lot going on in addition to Ed and Declan getting to know each other. Lots of upheaval with threats to everyone Declan cared about. Then throw in the once-thought-dead wife come back to life and damn but they had a heck of a lot to overcome. Yet, I never felt that it took away from the romance. If anything, it brought Declan and Ed closer together. There was just the right balance of romance, humor, suspense and teasing for future books.

Heartbreak Creek is a beautifully told historical western romance. We need more books like this! Thankfully, Ms. Warner has more on the way.
Profile Image for Jac K.
1,967 reviews207 followers
March 23, 2022
Reread 3/23/2022- I have a tendency to have random book scenes pop in my head (annoyingly usually when I’m trying to fall asleep) and then I fixate on it until I locate and reread the book. Recently, I was stuck on two, the first was a scene about a cougar (found here) and thankfully Ivy and Reader in NJ helped me out with the other. So, in case this comes up again- note to self- this is the book where the unwanted wife saves the H’s kid from a cougar which cements his change of heart. I did like this better this time around. (I think cuz I knew Ed would improve) It’s not heavy on the feels but entertaining enough.

*****Original Review**** *

Heartbreak Creek is a historical (set just after the Civil War) mail order bride/ unwanted bride romance. I liked the book but didn’t like the pacing. I found the first part rather slow, and it dragged on, but the ending was a smidge rushed. I received this as a freebie and have no plans of purchasing the other two.

Edwina (Ed) is a widow struggling with her mixed-race sister (Pru) in post-war Louisiana. Fearing for their future, and her sister’s safety she accepts a MOB offer from Declan Brodie and moves to a cattle ranch in Colorado. Declan is a widow with four kids. He needs someone to take care of his kids/help with the ranch but isn’t interested in love. (his first marriage wasn’t a happy one)

For the first half of the book, I really struggled with Edwina, and wanted Declan to dump her, and marry Pru. I found her shallow, spoiled, and difficult, and was SO frustrated that she pursued the MOB with a rancher that had four kids, then acted put out and negative when she arrived. The author constantly tells us how strong and protective she is, but her actions didn’t always back it up. For example, she’s very protective if someone disrespects Pru but she herself treats her like a maid. She does get better, and I eventually liked her.

This is a slow burn; the couple finally get together about 60% into the book. It’s "clean"… sexytime is fade to black. The story starts to pick up when Lone Tree (the Indian responsible for his ex-wife’s disappearance) enters the plot. The biggest disappointment for me was the “return” of the dead ex-wife. This teaser was the reason I read the book, and it was very anti-climactic.

Bottom Line- It was alright, but I won’t continue. After about 58% if picks up, but I felt like we still spent more time on things I didn’t care about (Amos, Maddie, Lucinda, ect.) rather than digging deep for feels. I was disappointed that the Pru/Thomas storyline was left open since they don’t have a book.
Profile Image for J..
188 reviews22 followers
June 11, 2011

How do you top a series like The Blood Rose Trilogy by Kaki Warner? The men were wounded heroes worth sighing over. The women were strong enough, interesting enough, to stand beside their men without being overshadowed. The details were richly drawn and story both exciting and heartfelt. As I cracked the first page of Heartbreak Creek, the first book in Warner’s new series, I held my breath, hoping for the best but knowing my expectations were high. I need not have worried.

Everything I loved about Warner’s writing is present in Heartbreak Creek, the first of the Runaway Brides books. While Warner originally won me over with her Blood Rose heroes, it is the heroines who captivated me this time. Four unique women head west seeking stability, adventure, lost loves or new lives. They bond through shared experiences and circumstance in spite of their differences. The seeds of their hopes, dreams, and future relationships are planted in the fertile ground of an unlikely setting: Heartbreak Creek, a decrepit mining town about to be changed forever.

In the opening book, the stage is set as Edwina Ladoux flees the troubled Deep South with her half-sister, Prudence. Edwina hasn’t been totally honest about her ability to be the rancher’s wife her husband by proxy, Declan Brodie, needs and expects. Humorous and heart-tugging moments resulting from Edwina’s lack of skill, her need to tame but also protect Declan’s children, her loyalty to her sister and perseverance in spite of her flaws had me cheering for Edwina from the beginning.

Declan is not what Edwina expected either but he was everything I hoped for as a reader. Larger than life, troubled but caring, the rancher who wanted a sturdy farm wife gets a challenging handful of a woman instead. His befuddlement with her is endearing. His insecurities and past history are intriguing. As Declan’s relationship with Edwina evolves, more and more layers of his facade are stripped away, his past explained. I fell in love with him just as Edwina does.

As much as Edwina and Declan shine, the strong secondary characters and story lines add to the appeal of this historical western romance. Prudence, Lucinda and Maddie are wonderfully written, without overshadowing Edwina. The town is a character all its own, facing its own challenges. As the series continues, I look forward to seeing the town evolve as much as I want to find out more about these four women. Heartbreak Creek is an excellent start to the Runaway Bride series. The next book can’t come fast enough.

Profile Image for The Book and Beauty Blog.
133 reviews12 followers
August 20, 2021
Spoiler Free

This book was so close to being fantastic. A romance set in the 1800s Wild West is usually my thing but unfortunately, Heartbreak Creek fell a little short.

In typical Kaki Warner style, the characters had a lot of depth and I was truly interested in all of them, even the villains. I especially loved the two main characters, Declan and Edwina. Declan is the strong, silent type while Edwina is independent and feisty. Those types of characters being thrown together for a slow burn romance should have been a match made in bookish heaven for me… and it would have been if the pacing was better.

The book started off strong but really got bogged down in the middle. I found myself skimming a good bit until the last 15% or so. This was a more plot driven story rather than character driven so events kept happening to keep Edwina and Declan apart. The slow burn aspect actually didn’t go on for that long but they still couldn’t be together because of different circumstances. In my opinion, that isn’t entertaining to read about, it’s annoying. This might be a me thing but I always prefer character development over anything else and I left this book still not really “knowing” the characters. Right when things got super interesting, the story ended. This is part of a trilogy, though, and while the next book follows one of the side characters, I know that the main characters from this one do make an appearance. I can only hope that they’ll be further fleshed out because they have a ton of potential.

Heartbreak Creek isn’t bad, it’s just disappointing.The ending was fantastic and since I didn’t read the synopsis beforehand, I was totally surprised by some of the twists. I do look forward to finishing the series because I am interested but I wish I felt more invested than I do.

For other reviews, go to https://thebookandbeautyblog.com/
Profile Image for Anna.
292 reviews12 followers
October 2, 2011
I’m sick to death of nail-tough heroines, so when I find one who is a fighter (as accomplished as life lets her) but also a vulnerable human being my heart melts. Edwina, a former southern lady, and now an almost destitute one, has backbone enough to take a very difficult decision and apply for a sturdy-wife-job in order to give a future both to herself and her half-blood sister.

Thought I liked she performed as she was brought up(expecting to being served, shocked when Big Bog expected her to sleep in the wilderness, etc.), I was worried Declan should/would fall in love with her sister (who is beautiful and a hard-worker). In my opinion, the transition from worthless (flowery pot) to hard-worker goes a little too smoothly, and so does the children’s change of heart, but I see that going into detail would make for a much longer book.

On the whole, main characters, especially Edwina but also Declan, are well-drawn, different, compelling, flawed, vulnerable, worthy. The plot is well grounded and spins smoothly and encompasses more than a love relationship. Several interesting characters are presented (the children, Pru, Thomas, Edwina’s friends...).

Favourites’ parts of the book: the travelling to the ranch (how she fares with her fears, the discomforts and her misconception about Big Bob) and how she decides to resolve her bedding fears towards “consummation”. Least favourite part: Pru, I usually like complex characters, but I just couldn’t get the woman (however, is she has a book, I’m going to give her a chance).
Profile Image for Gisela.
362 reviews
June 21, 2013
I had several problems with this book, they all begin and end with the heroine. Edwina is a spoiled brat who depends on her mulatto half-sister. She goes on and on about how Pru is her sister and her equal but is the first one that treats Pru like a servant. They've been penniless for 5 years and in all that time she never learned to cook. She decided to go west with the ihntention of taking Pru along without asking her opinion or if she wanted to go.

The hero, after finding his faithless first wife and knowing she has suffered for four years at the hands of the Arapaho and that she is dying, decides to divorce her. I like my heroes with more honor than that.

The bad guy, who is claustrophobic, kidnaps Edwina and takes her into a mine shaft because Declan is afraid of heights. A fear that is never explained, or maybe it was and I just skipped that part. I ended upp skimming a lot.

You know you have problems with your main characters when the secondary characters are more interesting.

Edit: I have to add that there were a few things that jarred me out of the story. One, the friendship between the women and their conversations sound like something out of Sex and the City. I doubt that women back then would've talked so openly about sex and condoms.
Two, the use of the word "nasty" to mean naughty. I don't think the word naughty had the same connotation then that it has now.
Three, some cultural references that were anachronistic.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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