Cover Image: Deirdre's True Desire

Deirdre's True Desire

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Arriving in California is a moment Deirdre will never forget, especially since she finds herself being introduced to two very different men in smart businessman Kin O'Leary and cattle hand Dylan. However, as Deirdre does everything she can to find someone to sell her the materials she needs to build her and her friends homes in order to meet the deadline set, she finds herself wanting forever after again, but this time she'll marry for love and not money like her first marriage. Will Deirdre choose the right man and get her second chance at happy ever after, or will the trouble brewing and being aimed at her and her friends get in the way?

The others books of this series have been an absolute pleasure to read, and so, I couldn't wait to dive into Deirdre's story, and I've got to say that Ms. McCorkle has delivered another fantastic read for her Emerald Belles series where the heroine was feisty and not afraid to take on the horrible man determined to chase her friends away; the dialogue was enthralling and made this story fast-paced, as I wanted to discover which of the two men Deirdre would choose; and the tough obstacles the hero and heroine face had me absolutely captivated, as the heroine knows she can always count on her two friends, but doesn't know who else she can trust. 

As for the dialogue, it was intense due to everything the man that all the townspeople fear puts Deirdre and her friends through. Will they finally find something that makes people less scared of him? Will the three women ever get out from under the man's threats and intimidation tactics? Moreover, the heroine is strong, brave, independent and I liked that she's determined to marry for love instead of money because she's no longer feeling pressured by her family. I also liked how feisty the heroine was when it came to fighting for what she wanted. While the hero, he's a good guy that is hard-working, will do anything for those he cares about and I liked how protective he was of the heroine. I also liked how Kin and Deirdre interact, as Kin is the first man to make the heroine feel safe and truly loved for who she is -- feistiness and all. 

Overall, Ms. McCorkle has delivered a wonderful read in this book where the chemistry between the hero and heroine was strong; and the ending had me loving the words the heroine says to the hero to prove he's the one for her and that she wants forever with him. I would recommend Deirdre's True Desire by Heather McCorkle, if you enjoy second chance romances, the opposites attract trope, or books by authors Sara Portman, Maggie Robinson, Sophie Barnes and Shana Galen.
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~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~

Deirdre’s True Desire is the third book in the Emerald Belles series by Heather McCorkle. It can easily be read as a stand-alone story although some of the characters from the previous book have a large part in this story too.

War Widows Sadie and Deirdre complete their arduous journey from New York via wagon train where they join Cat, a fellow widow (her story is in Courting the Corporal). All three of them have a very short amount of time to build their homes on their land before the government reclaims the land. It’s a task that would be easily achieved if not for villainous landowner Ainsworth. He’s a powerful, rich man who wants the widows’ land and is doing everything in his power to stop the women building. Once the land is taken back he figures he will swoop in to pick up the land for a song.

Deirdre’s marriage was one for convenience arranged by her family. The man in question was much older than her, there was no love between them, but when he discovered a secret of Deirdre’s he couldn’t bear to touch her. The last year of their marriage was a cold one so when Deirdre found herself a widow she had no need to shed a tear for the man. Since befriending Cat and Sadie, and making plans to move to Sonoma where the three of them intended to start up a vineyard, Deirdre has finally begun to live her life again. All she would like to make it perfect is the perfect man. An adventurous, exciting man, who will love her just as she is, a woman who won’t settle into a boring life ever again. He will also need to accept the secret she holds.

Immediately upon reaching Sonoma two men attract Deirdre’s attention. Dylan, a very attractive man who already flouts convention with her upon their first meeting, and Kinan, an extremely attractive man who makes Deirdre nearly drool from just looking at him. He has a wild look about him and she is sure that there is no way he would be as stuffy as her ex-husband. The more she learns about Kinan and the more time they spend together trying to thwart Ainsworth, the more she likes him. She knows he has a wild side to him and is flummoxed as to why he seems to want only to be a proper gentleman when he is around her.

Can he help Deirdre and the widows find a way to get their homes built in time, and can he be his true self in front of Deirdre and not lose her affection? He also hides a secret that could send her running from him, dare he let her know what it is? What of Dylan, he offers his help to the widows too, but is he trustworthy, he does work for Ainsworth after all??

I loved this story, it had so much going on that there was never a dull moment. Deirdre is a strong-minded woman who knows exactly what she wants from life, sometimes she seems a bit sex starved, but hey, why wouldn’t she be after having such a cold marriage. I love that this story was much more than a romance. The plans to thwart Ainsworth were exciting to watch unfold, and I couldn’t see how they would ever be out from under his thumb. The conclusion of that part of the story was most satisfying, as was Deirdre finding love again. It was a feel-good story where the underdog comes out fighting! A real joy to read.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.
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Technically, this is a stand-alone novel even though it is a part of a series, only book number two has characters that feature heavily in this story. I don't think you necessarily have to read either of the others in order to gain an understanding of the events taking place in this story, and to be perfectly honest if you have not read the prior novels, you may even enjoy this one more. 

That being said, I have read the first two stories in the Emerald Belles series, and I feel as though this one was just missing something. The first two were witty, romantic and surprising. And while this one had its moments, I feel like it went along at a snail's pace compared to the other two, and the satisfaction at the end was too anti-climatic. I expected more - especially when it came to the villain, Ainsworth. Added to that the somewhat predictable plot-twist that happened in regards to the widow's housing situation and well... this story just fell way short of the standards that I felt were set in the prior novels. 

The characters were a bit odd as well. I enjoyed the fact that both Deirdre and Kinan had secrets they would rather not reveal, but I felt like Deirdre really didn't make much sense. She prided herself on being independent, and the fact that her status as a widow meant she didn't need a man, unless she wanted one of course. It also seemed as though she toyed with Dylan a lot at first, not being open and telling him outright that she was not interested. There are also the numerous times that she comes up with some harebrained scheme or idea and acts upon it - without thinking it through. We get no real reasoning behind why she does what she does, and the fact that her friends consider her a bit "wild" or "reckless" just doesn't cut it. I want to know her motivation. Why she feels driven to say the things she does and act/react the way she does. Even by the end of her story, I don't feel like we really got to know HER. 

Overall however, I do believe this story may still appeal to those who enjoy historical romances. I would read more from this author! 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.
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Deirdre and Sadie arrive in California eager to reunite with fellow widow Cat (Courting the Corporal) and begin building the winery they envisioned.

However the news is not good, Ainsworth, a local landowner wants the widows lands and has already tried to stop Cat from arriving in time to claim their land. Upon failing to kill Cat, Ainsworth employs other means to steal their land. If they do not have houses on all three lots by Spring, they will have to forfeit their claims. Ainsworth convinces everyone to refuse to sell the widows lumber and will not let them cross his land to bring any in. Desperate the widows must come up with another plan to get lumber and keep their land.

Deirdre comes up with a plan, under the guise of planning a wedding for Cat and Rick, she means to lull Ainsworth into a sense of ease, all while they sneak lumber right under his nose and begin to build their houses. 

To make things more interesting, Deirdre meets two men, both to whom she is attracted, but she is not sure either is what she is looking for in a husband. After the fiasco of her first marriage, she is firm in what she is looking for in a man, she wants nothing to do with a man with ties to high society, she would prefer a working man, someone who would accept her as a partner and not treat her like a child that needs protecting. She is also looking for a man who is not afraid of passion, she was stifled in her first marriage and has no desire to relive that nightmare. Two men seem to have potential, Dylan the ranch hand working for Rick and Kinan the owner of the inn she is staying at. But while she finds both men attractive, only Kinan shares her interests, too bad he is so proper!

Kinan has a secret and he is sure that Deirdre will be disgusted when she learns of it, but what he doesn't know is Deirdre has secrets of her own.

As Deirdre and Kinan work together to build her home, she becomes more attracted to him and wonders if he is really as proper as she first thought, maybe he would accept her once he knew the truth, but too much is at stake for her and her friends to risk letting him know.

When Dylan makes his interest known, Deirdre has to admit that she has feelings for Kinan and tries to discourage Dylan's attentions. During Cat's engagement ball, after dancing with Kinan and getting a surprise proposal from Ainsworth, Deirdre escapes the ball to get some air and in doing so learns Kinan's secret. Instead of being disgusted, Deirdre is relieved, because she knows now that Kinan can be trusted with her secret. When he finds her, she shares the truth with him and it seems that these two are well on their way to a HEA.

But before they can act on their feelings, Dylan arrives with the terrible news - the widow's houses are all afire. By the time they arrive, Deirdre's house is almost gone and to make matters worse, Dylan is injured fighting the fire. Deirdre is heartbroken, with winter setting in, there is no way to get more lumber and it seems that her dreams will be shattered.

But help comes from a surprising source and again Kinan shows Deirdre that he will do anything to support her dreams and things between them progress. But their budding relationship will be tested again when Dylan heals and confronts Deirdre. That confrontation leads to a final confrontation with Ainsworth and Dylan's secrets will be revealed.

I thought the story was well written, but I would not recommend reading this book without having read Courting the Corporal first, I also had mixed feelings about Deirdre, I have nothing against a strong, independent woman, but for most of the book Deirdre came across as indecisive and wanton - she is practically drooling over the men and seems more like a cat in heat than the modern no-nonsense woman she claims to be. I would also agree with another reviewer who said that the graphic love scene came out of nowhere - because while I have no problem with a graphic love scene, there was no real build up to it - they don't even kiss until well past the 3/4 point of the book and then BAM! they are having sex. The scene was well done, but the timing didn't seem right. I also found the final confrontation with Ainsworth completely anti-climatic. But many of the lingering questions I had at the end of Courting the Corporal were answered in this book and I loved the relationship between Deirdre, Sadie and Cat.

I really enjoyed the book and having read the previous book I was thrilled to see Cat, Rick and Sadie again and very happy to see Ainsworth get his comeuppance - I would happily recommend this book but would highly recommend reading at least Courting the Corporal before starting this book.
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A strong, independent woman, who doesn't need a man (except when it suits her), takes on the California wilderness and the dangers in being a woman staking a claim. 

Although this is described as stand-alone, I really felt lost when I began reading. It was clear I had jumped into the middle of a series and many things were hinted at that I didn't understand or have any knowledge of. I definitely think this is a series that must be read from the start in order to truly understand these characters.

Deirdre is a strong, modern-minded woman, so much so that she seems out of place in this historical work. What made her so forward thinking? It is never explained, simply described as wild, which made no sense. There had to be something in her background that made her who she was, but we are not granted a glimpse of what that was. Deirdre is a wine loving, independent woman who does exactly as she pleases even when those around tell her its not a good idea. There's really only once where she acknowledges she ought to have thought better of it, but she never seems to learn from it.

There is a rather graphic sex scene towards the end of the book, which should not have surprised me as the author was not subtle in building up to it. 

All in all, this was not a book for me and I did not enjoy it.
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