Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gamblers, Covered Wagons, Free Spirits, Demons and More

Turned in five reviews last night to my AAR editor:

Texas Blue (circa 1875) by Jodi Thomas is going on my Top 100 list.  In it gambler Lewt Paterson dreams of having a real house with a real family instead the saloon life he grew up with.  To do this, he goes to Whispering Mountain with two other would-be suitors where the three McMurry sisters live.  I've read the previous Whispering Mountain books and enjoyed them, and this fifth book didn't let me down.  Great story by a great writer.

His, Unexpectedly (contemporary) by Susan Fox is an interesting study in how two completely different people come together.  Fox doesn't use gimmicks or coincidence, but builds the story around the two people's pasts and their current likes and dislikes.  Jenna, from a family of brilliant over-achievers,  is a free spirit who refuses to make plans for the future and lets fate take her where it will.  Mark, whose mother was a free spirit living in a commune, was raised in a rigid fashion by his grandparents after his mother's death.  Each has a reason to hate the other's lifestyle, yet Fox makes it believable that they fall in love.  Amazingly well done.

Heartbreak Trail (circa 1850) by Shirley Kennedy follows a wagon train across country from the viewpoint of a gently bred Bostonian and her husband's fundamentalist views.  Fortunately, the dark passages of death, deprivation, and tedium are leavened with accounts of the silly, funny, and entertaining times.  This is a grueling book that reminded me to be thankful that I wasn't living in the mid-1800s.

Restless Heart (circa 1873) by Emma Lang is probably one of the sillier books I've read in a while.  It's so linear it squeeks.  Sam sees Angeline, Sam woos Angeline, Sam marries Angeline - and that's half the book!  Angeline, for her part, is the third wife of a Mormon man.  She and the second wife have run away to Wyoming where they are in hiding because their husband has sent hired killers to shoot them.  Say what?  Angeline, since her nickname is Angel, has no character other than "good," and Sam's just another "half-breed."  So many trees died for this one.

Rebel with a Cause (contemporary - New Zealand) by Natalie Anderson is the equivalent of a paint-by-number romance.  Angst-ridden hero and too good to be true heroine cross paths, have lots of sex, fall apart because of hero's past, and come together when heroine is hospitalized when a car hits her.  Only small trees died for this one since it's under 200 pages in length.


Demons Prefer Blondes by Sidney Ayers - So far there's a really annoying hair dresser heroine who is changing into a succubus and a really annoyed demon who is trying to help her and return the chest from hell.  I'm still waiting for the one's redeeming values.

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