The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is a work of art. Historical western romances are not the most popular genre, so it is always a pleasure to read a great one. Nina Romano does an amazing job with this novel. She captures every nuance of western life.

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  • Title: The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley (Darby’s Quest Book 1)
  • Author: Nina Romano
  • Publisher: Speaking Volumes on October 21, 2021
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Pages: 324
  • Available Formats: Paperback and Kindle editions
  • Rating: 5/5

Trigger Warnings: Rape, Torture, Murder, Gun Violence, Graphic Violence

Many thanks to Nina Romano for gifting me a digital copy of The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley with a request for an honest review.

About The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley

A brutal killing shackles Cayo Bradley more than his captivity by Apaches until his salvation—falling obsessively in love with Darby McPhee.

Can a deathbed promise ever be broken? This dilemma confronts Darby McPhee, an untutored farm girl caught in a tedious routine of caring for her father, brothers, and working in a mercantile since her mother’s death. Darby falls in love with Cayo Bradley, a high-spirited cowboy from a nearby ranch, struggling to settle back into White Society after his captivity by the Jicarilla Apache in northeastern New Mexico.

Darby is torn between her love for Cayo and the vow at her mother’s side to seek an education. This choice stands in the way of her heart’s desire to belong to the untamed ranch hand. If she maintains her promise it will cleave apart her world, despite knowing she’s Cayo’s redemption.

In this haunting tale of stunning love and loss, Darby learns regardless of what transpires she’ll always be THE GIRL WHO LOVED CAYO BRADLEY . . .

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My Review

Darby loves Cayo Bradley. She has loved him for what seems like forever. When he reveals that he loves her as well, a bright new future opens up for Darby. But, she made a promise to her mother before she died. Darby was to get an education to support herself if she ever needed to. So, Darby leaves Cayo behind to travel to St Louis to get her education. Darby promises Cayo that she will return for him. Unfortunately, dire circumstances change everything. Will Darby and Cayo ever get to live out their happily-ever-after, or will fate keep them apart?


Darby’s sweet personality makes her loveable and naive. When her heart lets loose, she makes decisions that may not be for the best. Though, no matter where she is or what she’s doing, Cayo is never out of her thoughts. Her love for him endures the test of time. I admire Darby’s conviction to get an education, though I also wish she had decided to stay home. Of course, I can’t have it both ways, and in reality, she made a good decision to head to St. Louis.

Cayo’s backstory had me on the edge of my seat. I adored getting to know him as a young boy, as well as an Apache youth. To watch him grow up into an excellent man with a strong moral compass made me happy. His attitude came off as quite gruff, which turned me off a bit. However, once I stopped to think about all he had been through in his life, it was easy to forgive.


The New Mexico wilderness caused my heart to swell. My complete love of history has me wanting to experience every period in time. Nina’s descriptions allowed me to live this life for a little while. The St. Louis setting was also nice, but I’m not much of a city girl. The city setting wasn’t as endearing, though described just as well as the wilderness. The city didn’t feel like home to me. I did enjoy all the baseball, though.

Further Thoughts

I couldn’t have asked for a better story. This tale is sad and tragic at times, but the theme of hope is always there in the background. I loved this story, and if there were one thing I could change, I would make the chapters a bit shorter. Long chapters always make me feel like I’m slogging through a treacherous ocean wave. But, even with the long chapters, this book is beyond excellent. This novel hit every emotion I could ever have with style and flair.

Wrapping Up

I award The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley a full 5 out of 5 stars. The beauty of the prose, as well as the careful storyline, makes this one a must-read. I recommend this book to anyone who loves western themes full of romance and longing.

5 Star Review

About the Author – Nina Romano

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Nina Romano’s latest novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, a Western, Historical Romance with a great deal of Native American research in it, is a semi-finalist in the Spur Awards and released October 21, 2021, by Speaking Volumes, LLC.

Her Wayfarer Trilogy has been published by Turner Publishing. Book #1 of the Historical Saga: The Secret Language of Women was a Foreword Reviews Indie-Fab Book Award Finalist. The novel won the Independent Publisher 2016 IPPY Gold Medal in the Historical/Romance Book Awards. Book #2 of the series, Lemon Blossoms was a finalist ​in the Foreword INDIES Reviews Book #3, In America, was a finalist in the 2016 Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards for Romance.
Her historical thriller, Dark Eyes, set in Soviet Russia is due to be released in 2022 from Speaking Volumes, LLC.

Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College an M. A. from Adelphi University and a B. A. and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. She’s a world traveler and lover of history. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, five poetry collections, and two poetry chapbooks. Her most recent collection, Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows, was published from LLC Red Dashboard. She co-authored, Writing in a Changing World. Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.

Author’s Contact Links: Twitter | Facebook

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