Mauranie Wells is breaking her back working to keep her family ranch in New Mexico, and living day to day in the shadow of her younger, more beautiful sister, Tennyson. Tennyson is constantly angry and demanding more money, when there is little money available. Especially when Mauranie finds out from the bank manager that her father's investments failed since his death and their inheritance is gone. Next she finds out that the mortgage is about to go into default for non-payment.
Mauranie is working to breed and train horses to turn her family ranch into a productive enterprise, but that takes time she doesn't have to meet their overdue mortgage payment. She doesn't have much hope to get through the day until handsome, well-dressed cowboy Stemson Arroyo Smith comes to their ranch. Instant chemistry ignites between her and Stemson, and Mauranie is shocked that he overlooks her more feminine, well-dressed sister to give her the time of day. Mauranie is self-conscious about her hearing disability, which she compensates for, although it makes it difficult to be around other people. Stemson is the new banker in the nearby town of Aqua Gulch. He came to look at her property in order to find a place to stable his horses and genuinely seems to like Mauranie, but Tennyson plants seeds of doubt in Mauranie's mind that he could truly care about her; that he's out to steal their ranch instead.
Mauranie is troubled by the tensions of trying to keep her sister satisfied, and heartsick at the growing distance between the sisters. Can she remain true to her vision for the family ranch, and keep her sister happy? Is a future possible with Stemson, or is that just a distant dream, far removed from the ugly reality of trying to keep their ranch afloat with little help from her sister?
Breaking Point is as much about family as it is a romance. Mauranie has made incredible sacrifices for her sister since her parents died. And her sister seems increasingly ungrateful. Love has made her bend over backwards for her sister. She hates that her sister is always angry and unhappy with her. I felt Mauranie's anguish at the growing gap between the sisters, her desire to succeed at turning their ranch around, and her hope that she could find a man of her own and a family.
I very much appreciated the manner in which Ms. Beggs incorporates Mauranie's hearing issues into the story. Mauranie works hard to live as normal a life as possible, and doesn't allow those hearing issues to get in the way of living a productive life. Mauranie is a great heroine. She is strong, but also loving. Her heart is very good, and she truly cares about others. I hated the way Tennyson treated Mauranie, always demanding and never thanking her for all the sacrifices she made. I was glad that Mauranie did stay true and consistent in her love for her sister; although I wish that she didn't let the younger woman walk all over her the way she did, and would force her to share more of the burdens of running the ranch.
Stemson is an intriguing character. He's a dapper cowboy businessman with a caring, down to earth heart. It spoke highly to me that he could appreciate Mauranie for her unspoiled, unpolished goodness and inner and outer beauty. He also struggles with demons from his family life, although the author focuses less on these overall. The tension between them resides in the trust and self-esteem issues they both have, and in the process of learning to open up to each other. Their loving bond and romantic chemistry kept me reading. I wanted things to work out for Mauranie and Stemson to be together, and I appreciated how the story unfolds on this front as well as with Mauranie's problems with her sister.
Ms. Beggs packs a lot of emotional impact into this short novel. She has a descriptive and emotional writing style that drew me into the story. Her imagery of historical ranch life spoke to the western lover in me. I felt for the characters and rooted for a positive resolution for them all. This was a well-written, enjoyable novella, although I wish it had been full-length; I feel that Ms. Beggs could have explored the issues presented more deeply. I would love to continue reading this series to revisit the characters and see what happens in the future with them.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
*Reviewed by guest reviewer, Danielle Hill.
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