My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Turner’s Vision is the sequel to Suzanne Ferrell’s historical western, Cantrell’s Bride, which I absolutely adored. It had a superb storyline about some great, down-to-earth characters who’d steal your heart. I was waiting for Micah’s story with bated breath. Sadly, I was sorely disappointed in it.
It all started when Laura, a spinster in her early 30s, spied on a murder of a Senator in the library where she was working. When the murderer felt her presence, Laura not only becomes a target herself, but also knew that life as she knew it was over. She was an orphan, and there were only a few people left in this world to help her out. One would be her best friend, Claudia, who is also an orphan, a spinster and of Laura’s age. They’ve been through thick and thin, so she knew she can rely on Claudia much more than her mean aunt and cousins.
The law enforcement refused to co-operate since the murder scene was found wiped clean. Only Officer Noah Howard seemed to believe in them. It was because of his warning that they had to plan fast to get Laura as far away as possible from Washington D.C. Claudia’s butler, Henderson, is the one who brings out the ad seeking a mail-order bride to a rancher who lived way back near Denver. Laura wasn’t much confident about this new chapter in her life. She had always been taunted as the ‘fat and ugly’ girl. She didn’t know if the rancher, Nathan Cantrell, would appreciate her, if at all. But when she goes in for an interview with his elder brother, Neil, she passes with flying colors. You see, Nathan has a 4yrs. old who needed a mother and as far as Neil was concerned, Laura fit the bill.
Nathan was basically a loner. His first love, his wife, cuckolded him and made him the town’s laughingstock. It hit him so hard that Nathan had sworn off getting emotionally entangled with any woman, let alone getting remarried. But then, plans changed when his ex left him with this damaged little girl, claiming her to be his, before she up and died in some mishap. Rachel wouldn’t even acknowledged him or let him touch her, let alone talk. Nathan was at a loss about how to communicate with her. Its then, his whimsical (and a little mysterious) best friend Micah gives him the idea of advertising for a mail-order bride.
Nathan didn’t know what to expect, neither did Laura. But she expected Nathan to be older and definitely not so very handsome! His good looks gave her pause, so did his curt behavior. She wasn’t happy, and I couldn’t blame her because Nathan was an a$$hole to her in the beginning. Whereas Laura thought it was because of the lack in her appearance, Nathan was having all sorts of lusty thoughts about her. But the marriage was to be in name only; a decision that both would regret in a few months. It was Rachel who finally bonds the two of them in a way that neither could deny. Neither did they want to deny the subtle attraction that grew everyday they spend together as a family. You’ll love Laura and Nathan’s interactions with Rachel and how Laura was able to communicate with her for the first time, breaking into the dark abyss she was living in.
As Claudia’s letters reach Laura with new information about the murderer, Nigel Blackwood, she knew trouble is on her trail. Claudia also informs that Officer Howard has disappeared too! Laura didn’t confide in Nathan earlier because she didn’t want the danger to find her little family. Finally, when Nathan comes to learn of the matter, he takes charge of the situation. When time came, he also ‘takes care’ of Nigel with Micah’s help. But then it becomes clear that they just found the trail of a big, big conspiracy!
In my review, I’ll try to elaborate why I can’t give Turner’s Vision a better rating.
Micah Turner was a character who instantly intrigued me because he had visions. He could see vague pictures of an upcoming event. Though mostly negative, his visions worked. Many won’t believe him but Nathan did. He saved their a$$es too many times when they were fighting together to ignore it. Besides Micah wasn’t crazy, Nathan would always vouch for his friend. So when he told them that he needed to go, meet Claudia, they believed in him. Micah had seen the face of a woman whom he hadn’t met and thought it was her. He’d also had strange visions of his younger sister, Patrice, and knew in his guts something wasn’t right. She’s supposed to be tucked away safely in their home, then why does it feel like she’s in grave danger? Besides, with his link to the army, Micah could lend a hand in the investigation of this conspiracy. With this plan confirmed, Laura wrote Claudia a letter requesting she hands over the investigation to him.
At the beginning, we find that Micah has just landed in Washington D.C. He immediately heads over to Claudia’s residence. Before that, he had already checked her out in the same library where the murder took place. At her residence, Micah notices a stout old lady leaving it. Upon inquiring, he finds that Claudia isn’t at home. Micah knew something was up so he discreetly keeps an eye, until the old lady returns and goes to the back of the house, then she starts taking off the layers of her clothing and wig, and turns into a slight, dark haired young woman! Micah knew he had to take matters in hand if he had to gain entrance to that house to talk to Claudia. When he finally gets in, there’s this uproar but at the mention of Laura’s letter, Claudia agrees to listen to him.
Claudia had been living under disguise to avoid being a target. She’d also been, according to her, conducting her own ‘investigation’. However much she felt relieved to hear that Nigel Blackwood was dead and though Laura’s letter gave her happiness, Claudia becomes annoyed when she learns that she’s to handover the investigation to Micah. She even thinks that if she acts like some vapid air-headed miss, she can... er, manipulate Micah into doing her bidding. Doesn’t matter that just earlier she showcased a completely different personality in front of him! That was my first niggling irritation at her really weird sense of logic. Micah, of course, sees through her ‘acting’, even knew why she’s doing all these. But he’s somehow instantly attracted to her and finds her amusing. He’d soon learn that Claudia is a force to reckon with, and I don’t mean it as a compliment.
There was some vague reference of Claudia’s life in book 1. She had an abusive father who beat her to bloody pulp, especially when drunk. I had no idea just to what extent her brain had been scrambled. She had a dislike and distrust for men in general and hated to be ‘manipulated’ by them. Hated when they demanded obedience, one of the reasons why she never got married, or so she likes to convince herself with. She had plenty of money and lived her life as she saw fit. Henderson was the only man who she considered more a friend than a butler. And the two boys, Adam and Joey, who were Laura’s ward for a very short while before her departure, were the other two ‘men’ in her life. Claudia took over the care for these boys who came from the streets. But now, they’re her family.
The moment she figures out that Micah is not so easy to manipulate, she balks, starts stomping her feet. She won’t let him into the investigation! As if it’s some kinda game and she’s protecting her territory! I mean c’mon, it was a serious conspiracy that concerned some high government officials. It was danger at its highest, yet Claudia was so sure that she can handle it all on her own. Micah saw it all, and was bombarded with Claudia’s accusations of him trying to ‘manipulate her’ into doing things. But he didn’t mind and accommodated to her wishes. Claudia agrees, with stipulation that she also be a part of this investigation. Then Micah tells her that she needs to be married… to him, ASAP, so that he can protect her from any harm 24/7. At first Claudia isn’t too keen on the idea. But then, Micah’s is tall, big and blonde. She’d noticed how handsome he was. She also liked his kisses. *eyeroll* It was easy for Micah to later convince her that it’s for the best, even though, at a later part of the story, Claudia again blames him of ‘manipulating her into marrying him’, which was NOT true! It’s not like she didn’t enjoy her initiation into the married life and everything that Micha did to her in bed. Seesh!
So they begin investigation (I use ‘they’ reluctantly as I found Claudia more of a liability than help. Micah always had to be doubly careful because of her). Micah enlists the help and expertise of some of his comrades who fought alongside him. The main man, Cain, would keep an eye on the internal matters and keep him informed. He’s utterly baffled by Micah’s announcement that Claudia would be a part of this investigation. More so knowing she’d be an ‘active investigator’. Imagine that! *eyeroll* You’ll see many more examples of her manipulating Micah to get her way, then going and jibing Micah with accusations of manipulating her! Anyway, while Cain and some of their other men work on the case, Micah takes Claudia to some of his haunts for information. Claudia was very fond of playacting and disguises. She tries to help him with some of her disguises, almost always getting herself into some kinda trouble. Then again, she made a point not to heed Micah’s warning because... well, they sounded like ‘manipulation’ to her. *SMH*
Micah decides to take Adam and Joey into these midnight haunts not only because of their street knowledge, but also for the fact that they can blend in and spy from afar. They even teach Claudia how to pick a lock on her insistent. Once Micah threatened to lock her up because of you-know-what, so Claudia made sure he can never lock her up! It actually annoys and hurts Micah at the same time, to whom the whole thing was only a figure of speech, expressed because Claudia didn’t have the brains to process his warnings. I mean, if she was an expert investigator and could understood and measure the dangers they’re in, I’d understand her insistence of remaining a part of the investigation. I would’ve thought Micah was being absurd if he didn’t let her work. But Claudia had no expertise to speak of, yet Micah let her trail him around London’s shadiest sites just so she knew he cared about her, understood her past and her complexities about men. Yet, it never seemed that she was happy with him. She wanted EVERYTHING to be done her way, and if there was one objection from Micah, he was ‘just like the other men who’s trying to lock her up in the house’ or ‘trying to manipulate her into doing their biddings’. I know I sound repetitive but that about sums up Claudia in the entire book IMO! She annoyed me so much that it went from disbelief to eye rolling to annoyance to plain anger. I mention ‘disbelief’ because she didn’t seem like the Claudia I met in book 1. Then again, she was fond of playacting, so who knows who was that calm and collected woman I met there! *shrugs*
Along the way, Cain revealed that Noah was one of his officers and was collecting information on his behalf when he went missing. Claudia was worried over the man, which sets Micah’s jealousy alarm off. Though I’d never understand what he’d seen in her, Micah wasn’t so sure about his wife’s devotion to him. And I couldn’t blame him seeing how she was more articulate about how he’s made her angry, rather than any words of love or devotion. *sigh* Micah was also very worried about Patrice. From an early investigation he knew his younger half-brother, Stephen, is with the conspirators and they might be in league with some white slavers too. Stephen seemed to be the main culprit behind this slavery. There was a chance that Noah had been caught and killed as he was working under disguise. And that Patrice might’ve been sold to the white slavers.
Then, one day, fate smiles. A break in the case is found. While investigating a warehouse, Micah and Claudia find Noah; mercilessly beaten and barely conscious. They are able to bring him into Claudia’s house, though no one had any idea if he’d survive the extent of his injuries. It was Patrice’s name on his feverish lips that gives Noah both shudders and relief. On one hand, he might have information, on the other, Micah might not wanna know what befell his little sister. While Noah is being treated, Claudia asks Micah about his ‘family’, if he can call them that. How come his half-brother is such a cur? It increasingly seemed that he’s the one behind Patrice’s disappearance. How can a brother do that to his sister? Micah was dreading this moment because he had some skeleton in the closet that he’d rather stayed there, afraid that Claudia would be disgusted, deciding to leave him. Yet, he also knew that she had the right to know the kind of man she’d married.
Then comes what should’ve been one of the most crucial moments of the story as Micah’s begins... After his mother passed on, Micah’s father married a much younger woman. The first few years went well and she seemed to be a good wife and stepmother, until Julia becomes pregnant with her own. It’s then her b!tchface begins to appear. She’d manipulate their father and lie about Micah and Patrice to made their lives miserable. In all these, his father always supported Julia’s crap. By 17, Micah was itching to get out. He’d already had gone to school and has had all the fun a young man can have at that age. He was also tall and muscular, with the body of a grown up. Its then, Julia seemed to notice him in a way she should never have. I think you get my meaning... She keeps on throwing herself at him but Micah had no interest in that kinda trashy stuff. It might even be her plan, to do something so that Micah is thrown out of the house. As a result, Stephen would inherit everything. I wouldn’t go into the whole sordid tale but she succeeded with a drunken Micah. As planned they’re ‘caught’ by his father. Micah tried to defend himself but there was no reasoning with the old man. That night, he left and later joined the army.
Micah went back a couple of years later after his father’s passing, only to find he has a ‘younger brother’ named Hank. Micah knew that instant and was sad that he can’t even claim the boy as his own. Even though he hated the mother, he loved Hank and cared for him. Micah couldn’t take him or Patrice because he didn’t think he can adequately take care of them. Maybe later, when he can. Sadly, that day never came. He always assumed Patrice was safer that way. Now where does this leave him? The guilt is paramount and he knows he’d do anything to save his little sister and bring her back, if she’s indeed alive.
I should’ve been moved or disgusted or felt something about this. Thankfully, due to the clinical way the whole affair was narrated, I didn’t feel anything. But I didn’t judge Micah either. Clearly he was no saint. But he’d always been forthcoming about his faults, honest to boots about those. He took a risk in confiding Claudia, knowing this might end their relationship. I applauded him for it, and really wanted Hank to be a part of his life once again. It was good that at least in that, Claudia seemed to agree. But if I thought she was coming to her senses, and see the treasure she had in Micah, I was sorely mistaken.
When Noah’s condition improves, Patrice’s fate becomes clear. It’s as bad as Micah had imagined, maybe worse than that. It seemed Noah rescued her from Stephen’s ship and hid here somewhere far away. Even in this condition, Noah is resolute in helping Micah as long as he can also avenge these criminals. Micah is forced to leave Claudia very early in the morning while she was still sleeping, afraid she’d wanna tag along (which she probably would’ve). They needed to act fast to stop the conspiracy at play, more so because Micah needed to see for himself that Patrice was alive.
After Micah’s departure, Claudia finally, it seemed, began to miss him in earnest. Then she finds out Micah had done something stupid and asked Neil to prepare a divorce paper, thinking Claudia and the boys would be safer if he’s not around. Even I thought it was a stupid assumption on his part, though I knew he was probably desperate enough to do anything to keep them safe. I was also thinking what if she’s pregnant, which proves to be true. Claudia is mad at Micah, and this time, I supported her anger. She decides to pack up everything and move to Micah’s mountain home, that resides close to Nathan-Laura’s. She’d live there if that means she can catch him and tell him what a jerk he was in person. She’d also make a home and welcome him. I loved it that she invites Hank to join them, which the 15 yrs. old starving for affection just gobbles up and happily obliges.
Micah and Noah finally arrive in their destination. He is devastated to find Patrice without any light in her eyes, a veritable zombie after her unspeakable abuse in Stephen’s ship. But it seemed Noah cared much deeper than he spoke of. Then they begin to plan for the ultimate showdown... And when it’s all taken care of, one man still manages to escape their clutches. Micah knew that this guy would go after Claudia, because he’d just had a vision of her that didn’t bode well. It seemed he can’t stay away from her after all!
I was enjoying the next bit quite a lot, was even hopeful about Claudia finally seeing things clearly. After reaching Nathan’s, she spends some happy times with Laura, catching up. With everybody’s help, she works really hard to make a home out of Micah’s log cabin in the mountains. When at last Micah is home and surprised as sh!t by all the changes, I thought maybe finally there’s the HEA I’ve been waiting for. But noooooo! Claudia had to go and ruin all my hopes yet once again!
The moment Micah mentioned that he had a vision about her, she interprets it as the reason behind Micah’s return. Not because the man actually loves her so much that he didn’t even wait a day. That he left Patrice with Noah, mainly because his first and foremost concern was to see to her safety ASAP. He was totally regretting the divorce plan and would do anything to make it up to her. He was already working hard to make their home more of a comfy place within months into his return. She had no problem having sex with him every day, yet she was mad because she felt he didn’t care for her, didn’t love her... bla bla freakin’ bla! She wouldn’t even talk to him at the daytime, when everyone around her in so many words told her that she was being a moron. It’s as if she was always stubbornly blind to all of Micah’s virtues. Micah was only good when he was listening to her, otherwise, he was as bad as any other man! He’s the one who has to prove his love for her, Claudia had no obligations in that regard. Is this the sign of a smart, mature woman who ‘claims’ to be in love with her husband? Seriously? I NEVER once believed that Claudia even understood the notion of real love! Don’t know how Micah could even stand her after the pain she’d been throughout the book. In other words, she ruined this book for me. IMO Micah definitely deserved a better, much more understanding heroine.
On a positive note, I did love the parts where Claudia didn’t give me a headache. Noah and Patrice’s story was building since the moment he took her name, I’m now eagerly awaiting it. Hope to read it in near future. 3.5 stars.
PS: Would also like to note the typos (enough for me to notice them) that shouldn’t have been there in a published book.