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Marco and the Devil's Bargain (The Spanish Brand Series Book 2) Paperback – September 1, 2014
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Marco Mondragón, a lawman on the New Mexican frontier in 1782, fears that his young wife, Paloma, will be stricken by the smallpox epidemic. When their Comanche friend, Toshua, rescues Anthony Gill, a white physician, from the desert, they strike the titular bargain: Anthony will inoculate Paloma and their neighbors, and Marco and Toshua will escort Anthony to a Comanche hideaway that he suspects harbors his kidnapped daughter. Kelly brings historical verisimilitude to the setting, and her story brims with compassion for the human condition.... [There are] powerful themes of disease, infertility, strength in the face of loss, and kindness between individuals whose cultures are at war. Though la viruela is, in some ways, the story's main character, the love between Marco and Paloma, equal parts strong attachment and mutual high regard, takes emotional center stage, a satisfying oasis of beauty in the midst of stark harshness. --Publishers Weekly, July 14, 2014
When I first got my hands on Marco and the Devil's Bargain, I was a little let down. I hadn't realized it was the second in a series, and more importantly, that it followed the same couple that had already fallen in love and gotten married in the first book. In the past, I've read other stories like this, and it seems to me that the sequel is rarely as good as the original. As a result, I put off reading this one for a little while, worried that it would fall into that same trap.
Silly me. I should have trusted Carla Kelly to write a wonderful book.
Marco and Paloma Mondragón are happily settled in Spanish New Mexico at the beginning of 1782. Marco is the juez de campo in Valle del Sol, the town where they live. His ranch, the Double Cross, is prosperous, and the people of Valle del Sol are peaceful and law-abiding for the most part. If he and Paloma long for children, well, that's only a little bit of sadness to balance the many other blessings they have.
Unfortunately, this peaceful state of affairs is soon to be upset. News comes to Marco that smallpox has been sweeping through Texas, and is likely soon to reach Valle del Sol. Although Marco has been vaccinated, his beloved Paloma has not. Poor Marco lost his first wife and twin sons to cholera, and now he very much fears that he will lose his second wife to another disease.
As luck would have it, Dr. Anthony Gill finds himself in Valle del Sol soon after Marco learns that smallpox will be coming. Anthony, who recently traveled with a group of traders through Texas, has collected scabs from the diseased and is prepared to inoculate Marco's family and friends. However, his aid comes'at a price Anthony's daughter, Pia Maria, was taken by a group of Indians and sold to the Comanches, who live in a hidden canyon somewhat near Valle del Sol. Anthony declares that he will only help Marco if Marco will agree to take him to the Comanches after he finishes inoculating the people of Valle del Sol. Reluctantly, Marco agrees.
Paloma, of course, will not let her husband travel across the Llano Estacado to the Comanches without her, and so it is that Anthony, Paloma, Marco, and Toshua, the Comanche companion of Paloma and Marco, find themselves trekking together across snowy plains into the middle of dangerous Comanche territory.
To begin with, Marco and Paloma are a wonderful couple. They know each other very well, and in spite of not reading the first book, in which their characters were initially developed, I came to know them well too. Paloma is a strong, sweet woman, perfectly suited to her honorable, Spanish husband. They are both at their best when they're together not because they get outrageously maudlin when apart, but rather because they work as a team when they're together, supporting each other as all good couples d --Alexandra Anderson, All About Romance, August 15, 2014
5 Stars: "What a wonderful adventure this book is! Marco's and Paloma's love for each other has grown, and they express it enthusiastically and regularly, though not too explicitly.... Carla Kelly has written another masterpiece about a time and place you don't typically read about in a historical romance. Her descriptions are vivid, and she doesn't shy away from the unpleasant aspects of how hard life was then. Her characters are well rounded, and interesting. The plot is exciting, and has a couple twists at the end that I didn t see coming. This amazing story truly satisfies a love of both romance and history and I recommend it most highly."--Lady Blue, Romantic Historical Reviews
About the Author
A well-known veteran of romance writing, Carla Kelly is the author of thirty-five novels, numerous short stories, and four non-fiction works. She has been writing for years. Her first novel was a three-sentence, typed mystery titled, "The Old Mill," written when she was six years old. Her novels are considerably longer now.
Carla is the recipient of two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Regency of the Year; two Spur Awards from Western Writers of America for Best Short Fiction; and two Whitney Awards, one for Best Romance, 2011, and another for Best Historical Fiction, 2012. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times.
Carla enjoys writing historical fiction, which she sees as a byproduct of her study of history. In addition to her works centered on the American West, she has written many books featuring the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.
Carla and Martin Kelly live in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Look her up on carlakellyauthor.com.
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Top customer reviews
I would suggest you pick up The Double Cross before you read this one, just because it makes sense to read the story from the beginning. Both books are superb.
Marco's father had the foresight to have Marco and his sister inoculated against Smallpox when they were children, but he knows Paloma hasn't been inoculated because she doesn't have the scars from the inoculation. When the "less-than-lovable" Dr. Gill explains that he has some of the Smallpox virus available for inoculation, Marco feels as though he can breathe once again. However, Dr. Gill refuses to inoculate Paloma until Marco agrees to do a huge favor for him. It seems Dr. Gill is on a mission to find his missing daughter who was purchased by the Comanches a few years back when she was four years of age and he would have Marco take him deep into Comanche territory to the Staked Plains, the Comanche stronghold to the east, in Texas in order to find the child. Marco, who is nothing if not honorable to the extreme, is furious because he doesn't believe a physician could/would actually barter for Paloma's life, plus, it's obvious Dr. Gill has no idea what he is asking of Marco. However, Marco can't take the chance of losing Paloma, so agrees to Gill's demands.
The storyline focuses briefly on Marco's efforts to get as many people in the surrounding area inoculated as possible before heading into the Staked Plains. The rest of the story dwells on the journey there and the time spent with the Comanche people. Paloma refuses to be left behind, so there are four on this trip - Marco, Paloma, Dr. Gill and the ever present Toshua, Comanche warrior who Paloma rescued from slavery and near death in "The Double Cross," and who now considers himself to be Paloma's protector.
Carla Kelly does not disappoint her readers in this book. I was committed, dialed in, scarcely took my eyes off the pages of my Kindle from the time I began reading the story. As usual, there are some ugly happenings and we are not spared the gory details. Although I am of the opinion that some of the parts of the book related to the time in the camp of the Comanches was somewhat fanciful - for lack of a better term - I still loved the story. Marco and Paloma, their unique life, their hopes and dreams, their lovely marital relationship is engaging and truly amazing. I hope there will be more books in this series.