I know Sandra Brown´s books for many years, and I personally believe she is at her best when she´s writing thrillers. Yes, she has one or two good books in the other genres she´s written about, but Sunset Embrace isn´t one of them. I missed the brilliance of her writing style, her fantastic use of the words she usually has and of course the lack of the thrill. Sure, the story of Sunset Embrace has some kind of thriller elements, there is a lot of hot scenes, shooting, dead people and a wonderful love story are developing between Ross and Lydia. But the rest?

Sunset Embrace
by Sandra Brown
Coleman Family Saga #1
Publisher Grand Central Publishing on June 1, 1990
Genre Novel
Pages 384
Format Paperback

They were two untamed outcasts on a Texas-bound wagon train. Two passionate travelers, united by need, threatened by pasts they could not outrun … Lydia Bryant –voluptuous and russet-haired, fleeing from a secret shame, vowing that never again would a man, any man overpower her … Ross Coleman – dark, brooding and iron-willed, with the shadow of a lawless past in his piercing eyes, sworn to resist the temptation of his wanton longings … Fate threw them together on the same wild road, where they fought the breathtaking desire blazing between them, while the shadows of their enemies drew ever closer until a showdown with their pursuers was inevitable. Before it was over, Lydia and Ross would face death … the truth about each other … and the astonishing strength of their love …
Sandra Brown tells in this novel the story about some families and how they make their way to Texas. Lydia was found by the eldest son of Ma Langston and brought to the trek and Ma took care of her when she recovered from giving birth to a stillborn. And Ma Langston is it, who sees the solution when Ross Coleman´s wife Victoria dies during the birth of his son Lee. The widowed father is now alone with his baby boy and it looks like the baby is following his mother. Lydia and Ross have both been hurt in the past. However, they find themselves thrown together, fighting the same enemy and unable to stop the events that will eventually pit one man's vengeance against the strength of a woman's love.

The story is so predictable, so obvious and the main figure, Lydia, isn´t what I would call a great woman. Don´t get me wrong, I liked the way she looked, how she was acting and what she in some scenes did, but had she really to be so insecure, so obedient and so eager to please everyone around her?

No doubt, the story itself is nice to read, I give her that without any hesitation, but the author can do much better. Good, I have to admit, that the novel was written in the mid-eighties, and back then the writing style of Sandra Brown wasn´t as brilliant as it is today. And for some reason, many things got spoken out when others were left in silence. There are a lot of really hot scenes in this novel, and I mean really hot! What Ross does with Lydia, and what she later in the story does with him, that was quite something to read.

There are only two figures in this novel that I really cared about. The rest was too weak, too pale or way too bitchy. One figure loves to point with the finger on others, to accuse them of every evil thing that had happened to the trek but she herself is so cold, so damn ignorant about what´s happening right before her own eyes or inside her own family that I really loved the scene when she got smacked by Ma Langston and told what she really is.

Oh yes – Ma Langston is one heck of a woman! She fears nobody, no matter if woman or man, and she says what she has to say, but only when the time is right. She takes not only care of her own bunch of kids but also of Lydia and Ross and she is it, who kind of saves Ross just like that by walking bye from giving in into his dark soul.

Ross Coleman – what a man. His dark past and what he´s done many years back have changed him in many ways. He killed, he tricked during Poker games and he had no conscience about whatsoever. But when he met Victoria, the daughter of a rich man, he saw his chance of becoming something, he wasn´t from birth. Yes, you guessed right, he´s the son of a bitch, and that bitch never cared about him. But the moment he meets Lydia, he starts to change again. This time he experiences what love can mean, really mean, and what it feels like to love and to be loved.
Yes, he and Lydia have their troubles, have to get to know each other and yes Lydia is different from Victoria, in so many ways, but soon he discovers that it isn´t that bad to be married to a woman like Lydia. And when one other man starts giving her a hard time, he fights for his love in a way, he´s never done before.

Sunset Embrace is clearly not one of the best novels Sandra Brown has ever written. For my taste too smooth, too predictable and way too soft what her writing style concerns. Never read a book of her, that had so many sappy lines. But Ross and Ma Langston were worth it to give these novel 3 stars. Without them, there wouldn´t be any star at all.

Happy reading

Sandra Brown
©Gregory Heisler Studios

Sandra Brown is the author of 63 New York Times bestsellers. Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into thirty-four languages. A lifelong Texan, Sandra Brown was born in Waco, grew up in Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University, majoring in English. She is much in demand as a speaker and guest television hostess. Her episode on truTV´s Murder by the Book premiered the series in 2008. She appeared in 2010 on Investigation Discovery´s new series, Hardcover Mysteries. In 2009 Brown detoured from her thrillers to write Rainwater, a much acclaimed powerfully moving story about honor and sacrifice during the Great Depression. Brown holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University where she and her husband Michael Brown, have instituted the ELF, a scholarship annually awarded to a student pursuing a fiction-writing career. In 2008, she was named Thriller Master, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer´s Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America´s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011 she and four colleagues went on a week-long USO tour to Afghanistan, meeting with service members on numerous bases. Sandra is the past president of the Mystery Writers of America in 2012. She lives in Arlington, Texas, with her husband, Michael Brown.


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