Grace Rogers is ready for the adventure of a lifetime. With her family’s farm falling on hard times, she accepts a position with the prestigious Fred Harvey Company and heads for Juniper, New Mexico. There she meets a handsome cowboy who quickly turns her head. Too bad the Harvey Girls are forbidden to marry…
Nick Hopkins has a plan: buy a little land, marry, and raise a family—in that order. But after meeting Grace, he can’t keep away. Their only choice is to marry in secret…but Nick isn’t the only man entranced by Grace’s charms, and this unexpected rival doesn’t plan on taking no for an answer. He will have her, no matter the cost: to Grace, to Juniper, or to the happily ever after Grace and Nick fought so hard to make their own.
I hate writing reviews of middling books. I’m sure anyone who writes reviews on a regular basis will know what I mean when I say that reviews of books that are simply ‘okay’ are often the hardest to write. Anna Schmidt’s Trailblazer, the first in her new Cowboys and Harvey Girls series, is one such novel, perfectly innocuous, but ultimately predictable and rather dull. The writing is proficient. The protagonists are… nice. The secondary characters are nice. The villain is eeeeevil. But the plot – which doesn’t really get going until the second half – is one cliché after another, and the romance is lukewarm at best.
The eldest of six children, nineteen-year-old Grace Rogers has just been accepted to train as a Harvey Girl, the young women who work as wait staff at the expanding chain of hotels and restaurants opening up at railway stops and in small towns across America in the second half of the nineteenth century. Her six month contract will give Grace a taste of independence and will also mean she can send money to her parents, whose Missouri farm isn’t doing as well as it should be.
Once her training is complete, Grace is going to be stationed at the Harvey hotel in New Mexico, and on the train journey, she meets a handsome young cowboy named Nick Hopkins – who, it turns out, is also based in New Mexico, where he’s the foreman at the Lombard Ranch. Mindful of the fact that Harvey Girls must be of high moral character, and that being seen interacting with a stranger could be detrimental to her reputation, Grace tries not to have too much to do with Mr. Hopkins, no matter that he puts himself out to help her.
Nick has a clear plan for his future, but after he meets Grace, he starts to wonder if he could – and should – make some changes to it. He wants to start a ranch of his own and has purchased some land, but although he wants a wife and family, they aren’t on his immediate ‘to do’ list. First he has to pay off the loan, build a house and purchase stock… but surely he could do all that with the woman he loves by his side?
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.