2021 Vivian Award Finalist, Book Review, Historical, Marriage of Convenience, Montana, Romance, Scarred hero, Series, Western Fiction

Fated Beginnings (The McKay Series #1) by Karen Muir


Is it possible for two strangers, scarred physically and emotionally, to trust each other with their hearts?

In 1884, a few years after a flash fire marred Jayson McKay’s once flawless face he finds himself living on his family’s ranch in the Montana Territory, longing for a normal life. Since the accident, he harbors no hope of ever starting a family. After all, what woman would ever consider marrying a disfigured man, such as himself?

When a friend writes to him of a young pregnant woman from a good home who needs a husband to provide a name for her baby, Jayson is hopeful yet skeptical of such an arrangement. What would prevent her from taking his name and returning to Boston, shattering his dream of raising his own family?

Allison Munroe is desperate when the father of her unborn child–the man she’d hoped to marry–jilts her to save his inheritance. Unwilling to bring shame upon her family, she agrees to travel across the country to wed a stranger.

Allison soon discovers she is ill-prepared to live on a ranch out West and must rely on her determination and courage to get her through the uncertainty of her marriage, the novelty of her new life, and the ever-present dangers that plague an untamed land.

Thrown together as a couple, they struggle to guard against their building attraction and flaming desires. Can they put their painful pasts behind and mend their broken hearts?


I have read my share of historical Western romances and I have to say this story really stood out for me. The characters are strong and engaging and I found myself rooting for them several times as they deal with prejudices and bullies.  There is also a fair share of action and adventure and some danger as well which moves the story along to the point where I couldn’t put it down.

Allison Munroe is single, pregnant, and abandoned by the father who has chosen his inheritance over her and the baby.  Therefore, with the help of her good friend Father Peter, she sacrifices herself for her family’s good name and reputation to begin a new life as a bride with a stranger in Montana. Why would a man want to marry a pregnant woman? She would insist this be a business deal because she will not trust a man again. Especially a man like the handsome and virile Jayson McKay.

Jayson McKay is a wealthy cattle and horse rancher in Montana who agrees to marry a pregnant at his friend, Father Peter’s, request.  After all, ever since his accident years before, women are disgusted by his scars including his ex-fiancee who left him immediately after seeing his damaged face. In addition, he is the eldest of four brothers and with the death of their mother, their home needs a female touch, and it’s time for him to settle down and start having a family.  The business agreement Allison got him to agree to was fine at first, but her beauty, bravery, and kindness have changed his mind about their arrangement and he wants more.

Allison and Jayson are made for each other and very likable characters.  They are both strong-willed and would protect their family with their lives. Allison is so courageous with the decisions she has to make to survive in a male-dominated world. Jayson’s courage is admirable as he works to overcome the rejection of his fiancee after his accident, loses his mother, and makes sacrifices as the eldest brother to ensure his brothers are set with their inheritance. Watching Allison’s easy acceptance into the McKay family with her burnt offerings as she learns to cook and become a rancher’s wife is heartwarming. And once Jayson lets his guard down and we see his charming side, look out. He’s a keeper! The McKay brothers are delightful and very protective of Allison. In fact, there are many characters that Allison makes a positive impact on. Most importantly, Jasmine Rose, a half-breed Indian prostitute who is taken under Allison’s wing to become her very close friend and confidante as well as a love interest for one of the McKay men.

I recommend this charming historical romance with a hero and heroine who slowly make the best of an unusual situation by learning to trust again and open their hearts to love. I can’t wait to read book 2.


Fated Beginnings

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Karen MuirKaren Muir never imagined that she would one day be a writer. Her journey began quite differently than most writers. She didn’t grow up pressing pen to paper. Instead, she took a different path.

For as long as she remembers, when her head hit the pillow, she dreamed.

She dreamed about people she didn’t know and the lives they might have lived. Scenes evolved and stories emerged. Before too long there was nothing else to do but write her stories down, if just to make room for more adventures, pushing their way in, competing for a spot.

Karen lives in beautiful New England with her wonderfully supportive and often neglected husband. Besides her love of painting with words, Karen enjoys visiting her grown children, granddaughter, family, and friends, traveling up and down the coastline, and watching Sci-Fi and Fantasy movies.

Follow Karen on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.