Monday, March 8, 2010

The Prize -- Malloy Family #2 -- by Beth Williamson

Jack Malloy is the youngest child of the Malloy clan, an artistic, part-time rancher who really finds his greatest joy in creating furniture and sculptures out of wood. But beneath his kind and humorous exterior resides a terrible memory, a secret that has been awakened by the revelation of Owen Hoffman's evil. Because of the newly activated memories, he hasn't slept the night through for nearly six months, waking sick and hung-over every night because of the nightmare as well as the effects of his use of alcohol to somehow blank out the awfulness that just doesn't seem to want to go away.

Featured prominently in these nightly horrors is Rebecca Connor, a woman who had been kidnapped, raped and terrorized by Owen and his cohorts and who has returned to Wyoming to assist Tyler in preparing his home to welcome his and Nicky's first-born child. Rebecca is a professional seamstress and one of Nicky's closest friends, and her journey to Wyoming for this labor of love brings her once again into Jack's real-life experience as he has come to the Bounty Ranch to assist Tyler in expanding their small ranch house to make room for the baby.

Somehow he has forgotten that Rebecca has gone through the tortures of the damned as well, and this bond between them is renewed, so much so that he cannot fight the attraction he feels for this tiny, unobtrusive woman who, in spite of her diminutive size is determined to carry her share of the ranching load and to be a true partner in the tasks that all must share in their daily lives.

Through the challenges of a horrible Wyoming winter, family difficulties, cougar attacks, the return of some of the brutes who were involved in Rebecca's imprisonment at the hands of Owen Hoffman, the discovery of genuine affection, and the joy of greeting Nicky & Tyler's twin babies, the relationship between Jack and Rebecca grows and matures. Williamson again writes a story of family loyalty and surprising friendship that is breathtaking in its scope and it is sometimes as surprising to the reader as it is to the main characters.

I continue to be captivated by these characters and by the on-going saga of this family. They each have their own problems, and in Jack's case, he discovers the depth of care that comes when people love each other to the exclusion of all else. The various members of this clan appear and disappear throughout these stories in such a way that the main story is never diluted but only enhanced. Each tale leaves one hungry for the next "installment" and Williamson's writing never seems to get old. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

No comments: