by Evelyn Crowe, Lorraine Heath, Vivian Vaughan, and Eileen Wilks; assorted (1999)
St Martin's Press, $5.99, ISBN 0-312-96886-8
Hmmm, while I'm writing this review, I looked at the Amazon page and realized I had read this book in 1999. Funny, I can't remember. I must be getting old, but my opinion is pretty much unchanged even during this second time read of this cowboy anthology. (Funny, if I have read this book, how come it's still in my TBR pile? Hmm...)
Lorraine Heath kicks off the show with the historical novella Long Stretch Of Lonesome, a beautiful if too short story of drifter cowboy Chance Wilder who saves Lillian Madison from some thugs. Lillian and her brother are like a ready-made family for poor, lonely Chance, but Chance feels hesitant and unworthy. Chance is a very nice hero whose loneliness cuts to the bone, poor man, and he's noble too. But alas, the story is too short and I am not ready to say goodbye to those three people.
Evelyn Crowe's contemporary Best Laid Plans is silly. The heroine Kathleen Calhoun returns to her hometown to sort out a Big Misunderstanding that tore her and Cole Jackson apart. Thing is, the story is like this: Kate tries to explain, Cole runs away, Kate chases and begs to explain, Cole runs faster and farther away, Kate gives chase some more, Cole flees harder... zzzzzzzz...
Then Vivian Vaughan presents her historical Sweetheart Of The Rodeo with has Catarina Ramirez, the daughter of the staff, and Monte Ballou, son of the employers, growing up to spark only to have Monte go off overseas to enjoy life. He returns studlier and wonkier than ever, and Cat's life comes out of stasis at last. Monte decides to take up rodeo-ing, and Cat is determined to show him that the best rodeo antics can be found in her bedroom. Thing is, Monte is a quissential momma's boy. Cat's grandfather has to hammer Cat into Monte's skull again and again before that silly twit gets a spine to marry the staff's daughter. Hmmph.
Eileen Wilks' contemporary A Tempting Offer features a tomboy Sherry "Sam" Lewis learning seduction tactics from her crusty old uncle so that she can get her stepbrother's friend Tucker away from his irritating wife-to-be. I like Sam, but the plot is old and contrived. Can't a woman just read a Dr Ruth book or turn on daytime TV to learn sex tips instead of asking an uncle? Must seduction be so complicated? When it comes to sex, I doubt men have evolved that high up the evolutionary tree. Just flash your bosoms and he'll start salivating, Sam.
The complicated mating game Sam plays has its moments, but the irritatingly silly wife-to-be of Tucker, the tomboy-seducing-brother's-best-friend routine - all are too familiar to be anything more than okay in my books. Really Sam, if you want seduction, with your body, nothing a few orders from Victoria's Secret can't fix.
Overall, an unimpressive anthology - A Tempting Offer is average, Long Stretch Of Lonesome is good but disappointingly short (tease!), and the other two are mere page-fillers.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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