Sometimes, there are no words to describe how it feels to come back to a series of books that makes you run a gamut of emotions, a series that makes you feel like you are one of the family. The Malloy Family series does this to me. It started with Beth Williamson's pivotal, The Bounty and so strongly continues with the Chastain sister's stories.
Utter devastation has wreaked the Chastain family. The two remaining sisters on the wagon train to Oregon have faced a loss like no other. Both of their beloved parents have succumbed to a fast moving illness, leaving their daughters to bury them along the bitter trail. When told they must marry in order to continue their trek to Oregon, eighteen year old Isabelle and fifteen year old Charlotte ( Charlie) decide that parting ways with the wagon train is much more desirable than finding husbands. They want to be reunited with the sisters they have left along the trail and become a family again,so they redirect their wagon going East.
Mason Bennett is left for dead along the path. He is beaten to a pulp and naked when the Chastain sisters happen upon his sorry hide and stop to save his life. A professor in his early days, Mason set out from the Southeast to make his own fortune in the gold rush, but was betrayed by his partners and left to die. The privileged son from a rich family, Mason has never had to endure the trials and tribulations of the road he has followed. When the beautiful Isabelle Chastain, tends to his wounds, he aptly names her his Angel, and his cynical mind and empty heart begin to soften towards her.
Isabelle has never been put in this type of situation before, but her parents taught them to help those in need, and Mason is definitely one in need. When they are basically taken hostage by a ragtag group of criminals, their struggle to survive takes the forefront and Mason becomes the man he always should have been when he claims Isabelle and the mouthy Charlie as his to protect. While they are attempting to survive and escape from the danger that's befallen them, Mason and Isabelle's feelings for one another blossom and in the midst of pain and evil, comes enlightenment and love.
I have to say that THE JEWEL by Beth Williamson has got to be one of my favorite books yet. This story just grabbed a hold of me and wouldn't let go. Already engrossed in the plight of the Chastain family, I felt my heart being squeezed throughout this tale. Isabelle, so beautiful and yet so strong, surprises many with her evolution. Charlie's wit and foul mouth remind me very much of the author's personality and I could imagine, Beth was very much like Charlie in determination, if not in speech. Mason should be disliked from the background from whence he came, but his metamorphosis from rich son to downtrodden man makes me adore him all the more. His will to show himself and those around him his strength makes him one of my favorite characters. THE JEWEL by Beth Williamson is a remarkable read which I most highly recommend.