by Genell Dellin, historical (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-000146-1
Susanna Copeland is a widow who needs a fake husband to help her organize a cattle drive up north from Texas to Kansas. Why does she need a husband when the whole town knows she is unmarried and when she doesn't want a marry again ever? I don't know. Maybe it's a historical accuracy thing. Personally, when this woman begins searching for men in jail to be her husband, she's a goner as far as I'm concerned.
She picks our Cherokee hero Eagle Jack Sixkiller. His Cherokee-ness doesn't really matter, since in his story he's more Drunk and Slimy rather than Cherokee, but this book is part of a series called Cherokee Warriors, so I'm just letting you all know he's Cherokee. Is Eagle Jack grateful that she lets him out of jail? After he has agreed to help her, he decides to renege on the arrangement. Bravo! No, wait, then he agrees to help her, but after he has made her agree that he'll make all the decisions.
Our heroine insists that she too be the boss. He says no, because women are trouble and he doesn't even want her to cook - he has his own man to cook. Maybe this ridiculous chauvinism is also a historical accuracy thing, I don't know, but it's nice if at least once this man listens to Susanna. Not that he does, because remember, this is a historically accurate romance. Maybe.
So there they go, squabble squabble squabble. While I appreciate Susanna's desire for independence, she loses me when she acts like a five year old demanding her way or else. Likewise, Eagle Jack Sixkiller loses me too when he just puts the move on her even as he bosses her around and makes decisions concerning her welfare, knowing full well her entire finances is staked on this drive, without her input.
But I really lose it when everybody else on the cattle trail begins playing Mary Sue matchmakers. When Susanna confides to the Older Female Buddy that she has released Eagle from prison and that he is a drunk and he doesn't respect her, our Best Friend announces cheerfully that Eagle is a Catch of a Lifetime. I scratch my head. Does the author even reread what she writes to see if it makes sense, or does she sincerely believe that drunkard, no-good gambling men who don't listen really are good husband material?
The usual nonsense happens, right down to the penultimate where he loves her but he just doesn't tell her and she thinks he doesn't love her and zzzzzz...
Very little make sense in this story, and it's a toss-up who annoys me more, the slimy hero or the mulish heroine. Both are equally dysfunctional and irritating. In the end, The Lover is just no fun at all.
At least unlike some Native American romances, the hero here doesn't sound or act like some child-man Lil' Disney Hiawatha, if that's any consolation.
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