by Connie Brockway, historical (1994)
Avon, $4.50, ISBN 0-380-77754-1
As far as I know, not counting her novella Heaven With A Gun and the prologue of A Dangerous Man, Anything For Love is Connie Brockway's one and only full length Western. The author has openly pooh-poohed this book herself, but I don't think it is really that bad.
At first glance, it is filled with the usual Western stereotypes: tarts with hearts of gold, hillybilly ugly miners, the city gal, the hero who is unpolished yet literate all at once, her nasty boyfriend, and the uncaring daddy of the heroine whom she wants to prove herself to. Anything For Love ultimately fails to rise above most of the familiar trends I've listed above, but it has fun trying at least. There is enough to entertain the jaded Western reader in me.
Venice Leiland, daughter of the Very Important Trevor Leiland, decides to show her father a thing or two about her abilities by rushing off to save of Salvage. The economy of Salvage isn't as prosperous today in the late 1800s, and rumors have it that Trevor is planning to close down the spur line crossing the town, dooming it even further. But Venice, she has ideas but first she has to find her paleontologist uncle Milton.
But things don't go as planned. First, she is mistaken as the infamous owner of the town watering hole, thanks to the fact that she invited the madame, Cayuse Katie, to share her coach. Then she realizes that she has to bunk in at Katie's infamous place, and worse, the guy whom she flirted really outrageously with is the son of her old cook, Noble McCaneaghy. Noble decides that Venice is trouble and reluctantly plays her prince gallant, just like they used to when they were kids. Sparks fly.
Noble is very cute as the really nice guy with pretty much no baggages to hold him down. His attitude towards women make him the kind of guy even the most disapproving momma will warm up to. Plus, he's petitioning and trying his best to gather data to turn Yellowstone into a national park. Venice is a surprise as a heroine who actually just ditzes around slightly but in fact she can be as smart as anybody. Come to think of it, she's even smarter than the laidback Noble. Her commitment issues really get tedious after a while, but I like how in the end she decides that if Daddy doesn't love her, so be it. She also is quite amusing telling Noble off that he is not going to use the "we did it, you may be pregnant, so marry me?" plot device on her. She knows how pregnancy works, so lay off dude.
But that doesn't hide the fact that she came to Salvage without much of a clue to save the town other than banking her hopes on her uncle, another unreliable man in her family, or that she really doesn't succeed in accomplishing anything for herself other than to snag a husband and probably getting disowned by her father. While Venice may be the rare heroine in this sort of books to want to have kids only when she is ready (read: not in the epilogue, mister), she really isn't any different from the Daddy's girls out there, except maybe a lot more smarter and has a better sense of humor than most. (She has a great laugh out of being mistaken as the town harlot instead of getting all puffed up and offended, for example.)
Still, I like Noble and his role as the beta hubby who probably won't mind if Venice wants to wear the pants around the house. He and Venice do have their moments, and that plus some small moments here and there that manage to bring new twists to a familiar tale all make Anything For Love a fun if somewhat forgettable read.
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