Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7442-5
Historical Romance, 2003
Our Western heroine Josie Turner is a victim all her life. From her drunk daddy to her drunk hubby, the men in her life treat her like something the cows leave behind on the fields after a hard day of grazing. Instead of becoming angry, Josie only becomes more luminous, more understanding, more caring, more freaking selfless. She learns to read and write from her friends in the smalltown Luminary Society and tries to keep a little stash of money of her own.
Then her husband is murdered. While saying that she hates her husband but still lamenting over the fact that the man doesn’t deserve to be stabbed in the back, she is arrested by our hero, sheriff Mitch Hughes who has always loved her and has, in his love, stood by and let her be whupped by her husband day and night. Josie’s evil father-in-law wants revenge, but Mitch knows that Josie cannot be guilty and now has to protect her. The ladies of the Luminary Society, now that they can help without actually helping, if you know what I mean, suggests that Josie run away. Oh no, what can poor Josie do?
I can tell her what she can do: she can take her annoying martyr act and shove it up her, er, somewhere. Josie is actually a smart heroine sometimes in that she can think and make rational decisions (not wanting to run away and let Mitch think that she is guilty, for example) but she, at the same time, willingly suffers for the tiniest of reasons. There’s a bed but she will sleep on the floor, that kind of thing. Mitch isn’t a bad hero for a guy if I can overlook that, like everyone else that professes to care for her, he had merely stood by all this time and let her be battered by her late husband and bullied by her father-in-law. He’s not too original, but he doesn’t annoy me as much as Josie does, at the very least.
With typically nasty villains, a damsel-in-distress, and a lawman hero and all, A Lawman for Christmas is a predictable but readable Western romance fare. The inconsistent heroine that can’t make up her mind whether to be smart or silly makes it a rather bumpy ride to the finishing line though.