Brianna O'Keefe is raising her niece alone and is forced to make up a husband in Denver to protect her reputation when it turns out that there is a man with that name who could be her niece's biological father. Brianna O'Keefe is doing her best to make ends meet, no matter how frayed those ends might be. It's not an easy world to be a single woman in Colorado in the 1800's, but she is determined to raise her niece, Daphne, as she would her own child and to protect her as much as she can.
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In order to do so, she took a job with a rancher, who at first believed they would have a very personal relationship. He is suspicious of her marital status and she is forced to make up a husband named David Paxton in Denver, Colorado to keep her job and evade his advances.
The problem is that she has and Daphne are required to write weekly letters to Mr. Paxton and they are shocked to find out he really exists. Armed with month's worth of letters, he find his way to their town and cannot help but notice the resemblance between Daphne and his own family. She looks like his mother and has a similar birthmark that also runs in his family.
He is sure that during a drunken night several years ago, he fathered Daphne, regardless of what her sister, Moira, had said. Just because he does not remember doing so does not mean that it did not happen and he is vehement that Brianna is not Daphne's mother, regardless of how long she raised her or how close they are.
They are forced to marry as the result of his beliefs and a sexist judge, because otherwise he is a Sheriff in Denver and he will simply take Daphne with him. They snipe at each other continually, she is skittish about his presence and terrified that she will lose Daphne, while he believes that she is intentionally lying to him.
She shares with him some of the details of what she believed led to her niece's conception, specifically that her sister was raped and died giving birth. He does not believe her, but eventually realizes she is a good woman in a horrible position, trying to do the right thing. There were situations where Brianna had to eat out of the garbage in order to eat at all prior to meeting David and despite how hard she worked, money was constantly a worry.
Finally, the two realize that the reason they fight so much, and despite their trust issues, they are in love. It is also proven at the very end that David Paxton was not Daphne's biological father, despite his beliefs, although by that time biology doesn't matter. He has claimed Daphne as his own child and she seems as her father, so the marriage of convenience finally turns into one of love.
Best part of story, including ending:
I very strongly disliked this story from the beginning, but I love the author and hoped it would improve. Romance novels are often illogical, but the coincidences in this one are just unbelievable. It's well-written and strongly detailed, but making up a man's first and last name, as well as the city he is in, and then he actually exists in that city, is bad enough. Add to that he used to drink a lot and cannot be sure he didn't father a child and the child has an unusual birth mark that everyone is family has, it was just too much.
Best scene in story:
The scene where they first met involved a dropped penny. Even in the financial aspect of the time, many people did not notice or stop to pick up a penny, but they both do. They bump heads and then throughout the novel, pennies keep appearing at odd times. Although it was not a supernatural book at all, the constant pennies adding up was neat and it was possible to see the connection they shared from the first meeting.
Opinion about the main character:
Brianna O'Keefe was too suspicious and too much of a martyr. Yes, she was a single mom and alone in the world, but even after she had a few options, she seemed to consistently make it harder for herself . Also, both characters spent forever not liking each other 3/4 through the book, they finally acknowledged that there was something between them.