As the sole survivor of a car accident that took the lives of her parents and best friend, Kit MacKlenna struggles with survivor guilt. This is especially hard for Kit because as an EMT, she was trained to save lives and she feels that she failed to save her loved ones. She comes home to her family seat, a sweeping horse ranch, only to learn that the life she knew was built on a lie. In a letter from her father, he reveals that she was abandoned as a baby 160 years earlier and the only clues to her identity are a blood-splattered shawl, a portrait of a 19th century man and a Celtic ruby brooch, which her father claims has magical powers. Kit decides to continue her father’s search for her true identity and solve her birth parents’ murder.
Kit travels back to 1852 and arrives in Independence, where she meets Cullen Montgomery. He is a San Francisco bound lawyer who is leading a wagon train over the Oregon Trail. Against his better judgement, he helps Kit join his wagon train. She passes herself off as a widow and makes fast friends with one of the families on the train as she hires their son as a driver. But Cullen doesn’t believe Kit is who she says she is and he is determined to find out why she’s lying and what she’s hiding. Especially after a series of accidents and miraculous survivals show Kit to be more than a simple widow.
As someone who has read a lot of fantasy novels, it’s not too hard for me to suspend belief and accept the supernatural and unusual. But The Ruby Brooch wants me to not only to accept the existence of magic and time-travel, it also wants me to ignore basic science and common-sense. I just couldn’t do it. I could accept that Kit took her iPod and a solar charger with her and could listen to music, it might just be possible to do so. But to be able to watch YouTube?! Also, people were far too accepting of Kit’s behavior. They just shrugged it off instead of being distrustful of her. The only person who even has a hint of distrust is Cullen but he tempers that against his growing feelings toward her.
I had a lot of high hopes for this book. I was really hooked by the description and the first few chapters did have me looking forward to Kit’s adventures. I did appreciate that the author made Kit a fairly strong female lead and not a typical damsel in distress, though she does seem to find herself in trouble more often than not along the trail. Unfortunately almost all of the characters followed a typical stereotype. You had the crusty but heart-of-gold sidekick, the ever-faithful and strong mother, the little girl that reminded Kit of herself, and of course the dashing hero.
The romance between Cullen and Kit was more annoying than interesting. At times I wanted to just scream at both of them. Granted, I think most novels with a romance angle have many readers doing the same thing as we get frustrated with the characters lack of common sense!
The writing wasn’t bad and it was a quick read. I just couldn’t get interested in Kit and Cullen the way that many other readers have been able to. There wasn’t a connection for me. There are other books in this series, but I’m not sure I’ll be checking them out.