Let's talk about the author's style first. Regina writes with such an economy of words. I've read several authors who take a page-and-a-half to describe someone's demeanor or what a certain scene looks like. Regina sums it up in one sentence and you can still completely picture the person's countenance or the lay of the land. "The trees still held their summer hues, patches of green spotting the golden prairie." It's straight and to the point but still literarily pleasing. So, basically, her books are more story and less drawn-out commentary. Despite how this may seem, this choice of styles does not leave her books lacking. Just the opposite. It leaves room for so much more enveloping (I think that's the word I want to go with) story without ending up as a 2000 page book.
Now, let's see what's in store for us, shall we:
"She wants the freedom of the open plains
He wants the prestige of a successful business
And the baby just needs someone who can change a diaper.
The train to Garber, Texas, is supposed to bring life’s next victory for Nicholas Lovelace. Instead, it gets held up robbers who are thwarted by the last person Nick ever expected—Anne Tillerton from back home in Prairie Lea.
Anne’s been hiding away as a buffalo hunter. She’s only in town to find their runaway cook, but the woman flees—and leaves Anne with her infant son. With Nick the only person she knows in town, the two form an unlikely team as they try to figure out what to do with the child.
But being in town means Anne’s forced to act and dress for polite society—and it’s not going well. Meanwhile, Nick’s work is bringing new pressures, and being seen with Anne isn’t helping his reputation. Caught between their own dreams, a deepening relationship, and others’ expectations—can the pair find their way to love?"
If you read the first two books in the series, you'll already be cheering for Anne. She's led a rough life and deserves a little something or someone to call her own. I was quickly dragged in to this book and wanted to become one of her champions. It was so easy to feel her fear, her anger, her confusion, her despair and, finally, her joy and happiness. This was yet another book in which I dreaded getting to the end but I just couldn't wait to hear how things turned out for poor Anne.
In this, as in Sixty Acres, Regina brings all of the characters to life. I hurt for Anne, encouraged Nicholas, wanted to get down on the floor and play with Sammy, wanted to smack Ophelia, and would oh-so-gladly become the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Puckett's dreams. And I can't not mention Reverend and Mrs. Holland. I wanted to hate them the minute I heard of them. Wanted to, but couldn't. Every person was so vivid that I could almost swear that I know them personally. If I swore. Which I don't. I could also clearly picture each and every scene she described. I experienced a train robbery, a man's desperate rush to save his wife and baby, local politics, time spent having to live off the land and learning to live in polite society again. Each experience flowed in to the next with apparent ease. My eyes' inability to stay open was the only thing that kept me from finishing Caught in the Middle in one night.
My only problem with this book is that it struck a personal chord in me so my emotions were pretty raw at times. In one particular scene I had to put the book down because the tears just wouldn't stop. Is this something I would consider a negative about Caught in the Middle? Not by a long shot. If a book doesn't affect your emotions in one way or another, you're either reading a text book or an instruction manual or it just was not well-written. I will continue to read any book Regina writes because I know that, within minutes, I will be swept away to another place and time only to be dropped back to reality at the turn of the last page. And even then it takes a little while.
This book could probably stand on its own but I highly recommend reading the first two in the series before delving in to Caught in the Middle. Regina does explain, in this book, some little things that you would have learned from reading those but they do give you more background. And you should because they're both really good.
P.S. Following is a picture of Regina at her book signing. My apologies for the blurred picture. I was laughing at something she said or did. You might recognize the dress from the beginning of this post. It's the dress made for the book's cover art. I wonder how many authors can say they not only have the clothing made for the book's cover but can actually fit in to it. Not many, I'll wager.