This book was an interesting experience. I started reading romance novels in the mid-90s. Then, I gave them up (except perennial rereads) for nearly 15 years. When I came back to them I was so pleasantly surprised by what I found that 95% of my reading is now romance novels. Both the content of the books and my sensibilities have grown up during the lapse in my reading. I still find problematic elements, but the level of autonomy that the heroines now show is so greatly improved that I can always find something I like to read.
Anyway, I had read some praise for this author and picked this book up for $1, so why not give it a try? I started reading and felt like I was thrown back to my early reading days. I checked the publication date: 2010. I kept reading and just kept feeling like this was not a current book. So I went and looked again – the ebook was published 2010 – the original, 1998. Once that little detail was in order it all began to make sense.
Here is a small collection of quotes that I do not believe you would find in a book published in the last 10 years:
- “It was almost as if she hadn’t existed until the moment he had chosen to take notice of her.”
- “She most definitely didn’t favor the busty whores who bore the brunt of his romantic attentions.”
- “those curvy hips of hers were ripe enough to turn any man’s mind toward breeding.”
- “I swear on my pa’s grave that I won’t compromise you.”
Yup! It’s an American Western. If that wasn’t a tip-off to me, I don’t know what else could be. No one seems to be writing these currently. Maybe they are uncomfortable using the word ‘breeding’? (Ugh!) I would seriously love Courtney Milan to attempt it, but know that’s not in the cards right now.
This book is well written, just horribly out-of-date. The basis of the story is that Esmerelda, an American young woman (who happens to be the estranged granddaughter of a British duke) travels alone out West (Colorado?) searching for the outlaw, Billy Darling, she thinks killed her brother. Shenanigans ensue. So MANY shenanigans. If you have read romances from the 1990s you know what I’m talking about. The brother isn’t dead (not a spoiler). Billy has a whole clan of outlaw siblings as well as dreams to become a lawman. There is a loyal basset hound. An evil lawman who is hunting them down while also blackmailing Billy. Bank robbery. Wounds to be tended. A Wild West show. There is a lot going on in this book.
I hit the 75% mark and put it down to read something else. That’s usually the point in a book where things ramp up and I have to find a quiet corner to read in until everything is resolved. I forced myself back to it only so I could justify reviewing it. It was an interesting look back at the types of plots that used to be popular as well as some of the attitudes towards heroines in particular. In my old age I have less and less tolerance for the ‘completely naïve, virginal heroine and the one man who made her feel something’ storyline.