Hattie Walker dreams of becoming a painter, while her parents want her to settle down. As a compromise, they give her two months to head to Denver and place her works in an exhibition or give up the dream forever. Her journey is derailed when a gunman attacks her stagecoach, leaving her to be rescued by a group of Arapaho . . . but she's too terrified to recognize them as friendly.
Confirmed bachelor Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has long worked with the tribe and is tasked with trying to convince them that the mission school at Fort Reno can help their children. When a message arrives about a recovered survivor, Jack heads out to take her home--and plead his case once more.
He's stunned to run into Hattie Walker, the girl who shattered his heart--but quickly realizes he has a chance to impress her. When his plan gets tangled through translation, Jack and Hattie end up in a mess that puts her dreams in peril--and tests Jack's resolve to remain single.
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Publisher: Bethany House Publishing
Goodreads Rating: 4.56 Stars
Why I Chose This Book
I was offered to be part of Regina Jenning’s launch team for this book. I absolutely love her books and the humor that she add in her stories. And I was excited to read the second book in the Fort Reno Series since I absolutely enjoyed the first one.
First Initial Thoughts
Hattie is a young woman that sets off to paint the Rocky Mountains and to hopefully sell the paintings to a gallery. This is her last chance of independence as her parents wanted her to get married rather than pursue a career of painting. As with the times this was very normal so it was interesting to see this story unfold. However, things turn south and her stagecoach is robbed and the agents on the stagecoach are killed. She is left there in the middle of the prairie- and not to mention in the dead of winter. Luckily, the Arapaho find her and rescue her.
Jack is a lieutenant at Fort Reno and is assigned to go assist a young woman in distress at the Arapaho camp. There he comes across Hattie, his childhood crush. I mean not just any crush. He thought about her even when they got older and wrote her letters. I thought it was kind of sweet in a way. Jack still holding out a torch for her. Hattie has to be released from the Arapaho so he agrees to a “ceremony” that releases her to him. However, there is a mix up and they accidentally get married by the Arapaho. Yep, married.
When they both found out I found it so funny that they didn’t know what was going on the entire time. Even, if they couldn’t understand the language or traditions wouldn’t they have somewhat guessed what was going on? Hattie was furious and wanted to leave ASAP. However Major Adams (which we are introduced to in the first book in the series), warns Jack that they must keep appearances to keep peace between the tribe and Fort.
While Major Adams is away on his honeymoon, Jack and Hattie are left to pretend to be married. When he gets back Jack will be reassigned, Hattie can go to Denver and all will be normal again. Or at least they think it will…
The Lieutenant’s Bargain takes place in the same place as the previous book in the series. So we get reintroduced to the same setting but with different characters. I actually kind of liked this because we get a different perspective of the Fort. This time it felt like it was more isolated and also included more of a diverse set of characters. Which I always appreciate to see!
Though this is the second book in the Fort Reno series, you do not need to read the first one I believe. The characters from the first book (Holding The Fort) in the series are included in this story but they are reintroduced. So I don’t think there would be any confusion.
In this story we are reminded of what those first few weeks are like when first married. Especially if the couple never lived together prior. It’s awkward, challenging, frustrating at times, but also so worth it in the end. Hattie could have handled it a little better in my opinion. At times, she was very rude to Jack and didn’t give him the time of day. And poor Jack, he was just trying to win her affection the whole time even when they bickered. However, I could see Hattie’s reasoning. I mean, imagine waking up one day and finding out you are married to a person you barely knew!
I also liked the diverse characters in this book. In the previous book in the series, the Arapaho seem defensive and dangerous. However, in The Lieutenant’s Bargain we get a closer look at the Fort’s relationship with the Arapaho. We read the struggles the Arapaho had with enrolling their children in a Christian school. They didn’t understand why it was necessary. I was kind of torn on this issue in this book. We all know the history of the Native Americans and what happened. So at the same time, while I believe that it was good that we introduced the Native Americans to Christ, I also agree that they shouldn’t have forced them into almost loosing their culture and traditions.
I found it interesting that Regina did include real characters and schools in the book, such as the Darlington Indian Boarding School. While the school no longer exists you can still see it’s ruins near the Fort. And you can also still see and tour Fort Reno today!
This story was rather cute and I really liked that there was just more than the issue of marriage at hand. There was still the Stagecoach mystery - and another that is introduced in the middle of the story (no spoilers here!). It was an enjoyable prairie romance and I absolutely enjoyed the humor that Regina always puts in her stories!
Would I Recommend?
Yes, most definitely! Regina creates stories that anyone would just about love and enjoy!
Connect with Reginna Jennings:
You can read my review of the first book in the series —-> HERE
You can purchase The Lieutenant’s Bargain —-> HERE
You can purchase Holding The Fort —-> HERE
Note: I am a part of the Regina Jennings launch team for this book. I was sent a copy to review by the publisher. All opinions are my own.