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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley by Nina Romano is a western tale with hints of romance, set against the interesting backdrop of Native American culture. Cayo Bradley is a cowboy from a nearby ranch, a wild young man with a painful past linked to the Jicarilla Apache, but when he meets Darby McPhee, he falls for her. For him, Darby is his redemption from a terrible incident in his past, the path to settling back into the white community. Darby loves him. But there is a little problem, actually, a big one: she has a promise still to keep to her dead mother, one she made on her mother's deathbed. If she says yes to Bradley, she will compromise that promise. But how long can Bradley wait?
Nina Romano has a skill that I adore. She creates complex characters, chooses an appropriate milieu for them, creates a backdrop into which their roots sink, and puts conflicting priorities into their minds. That is what drives the conflict and makes readers care about how these characters evolve. The humanity of the characters is skillfully explored and it's easy to feel the sympathy they deserve. The setting is vividly painted and I enjoyed how the elements of the conflict reflect on the characters. The pacing is fast, the conflict strongly built around the emotional strengths of the characters and their relationships to the community, the world they belong to, and to each other. The prose is crisp and filled with descriptions that unveil the deeper layers of the emotional connection between the characters. The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is a great read, as entertaining as it is inspiring.