Devlin (aka Toklanni) Dennehy is a half-breed Apache. When he met Sarah, she was a widow with a young son named Danny. The two have been happily married for four years, and running a successful ranch in New Mexico. Sarah is pregnant with their third child, the first two having died during or shortly after birth. As she nears her due date, Devlin and Sarah find themselves eagerly, but anxiously awaiting the birth of their new baby. While Devlin and Danny are out hunting one day, Comanches raid the ranch, burning their home and kidnapping Sarah. When they return, Devlin, who is an expert tracker, is able to read the signs left behind in the dirt. He knows that Sarah is still alive and has been taken, as well as who the culprits were. He sets out immediately to find the love of his life, leaving Danny with neighbors. Devlin encounters obstacles on his way to find Sarah, and once he does locate her, he will have to risk his life to rescue her. Then Sarah goes into labor in the middle of the wilderness, and together, they must face going back home after loosing all their earthly possessions.
Loving Devlin is a sequel to the novella, Loving Sarah, continuing the story of Devlin (aka Toklanni) and Sarah Dennehy. Devlin and Sarah are basically the same characters that they were in Loving Sarah. Sarah showed a great deal of strength during her kidnapping by the Comanches and subsequently giving birth in the wilderness. My one complaint about her would be that a couple of times during the early stages of the kidnapping, her thoughts turned a bit overly melodramatic. Devlin had made a home for himself in the white world, but was still being pulled toward his Indian upbringing. When his old insecurities started coming back to haunt him, I thought perhaps more depth was being added to the character, but then his brooding just seemed to magically disappear.
There were a couple of things that I thought could have been better. One was the author's use of historical and cultural details surrounding the Indians. As someone who has an interest in Native American culture, I already knew most of the details that were included in the story. While I understand that many readers might not know these things, I still felt that these passages seemed to slow things down and were only there as filler to bulk up a story that was a little short on plot. I was also rather disappointed in Ms. Baker's decision to kill off the Comanche warrior, Esatai. Although he was Sarah's kidnapper, Esatai had treated her respectfully while she was with him, and I thought that he deserved to either "ride off into the sunset" gracefully or at least have a better outcome. Again, this event seemed to act as more filler for the story. Also problematic for me was the easy turning of a breech presenting baby which I thought was unrealistic as written and could have benefited from a lot more intensity and details.
Still, despite it's plot weaknesses, the story had an undeniable tender, heartwarming feel to it which I really liked. There were a few lovely romantic moments as well as the old west/frontier setting which I enjoyed, and I found the characters to be very likable. While not quite as good as it's predecessor, Loving Devlin was a generally worthwhile read. There are no explicit love scenes or other objectionable material, making this an appropriate story for any romance reader. While Loving Devlin contains enough back story to stand well on it's own, readers may find it more enjoyable to read the prequel, Loving Sarah, found in the anthology, A Frontier Christmas, first. Loving Devlin can be found in the anthology, A Wilderness Christmas.
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