Springwater Seasons: Rachel
by Linda Lael Miller, historical (1999)
Sonnet, $3.99, ISBN 0-671-02684-4

Page 4: "Sir!" she [heroine Rachel English] cried, with more waving of the handkerchief. "Pardon me, Sir? Are you an outlaw?"

Bye. I'm outta here.

Seriously, okay, I did force myself to read the next fifty or so pages in detail and skimmed the rest because my head was throbbing most painfully by then. Hey, waste not, like they used to say, and definitely waste not my $3.99. Plus, I don't feel like being slammed again by guardians of reviewer morals and author morales on their online fanzines for getting the color of the heroine's hat wrong or something like that.

Rachel, I can safely say, is as stupid as that single sentence "Are you an outlaw?" embodies. She is the new schoolteacher in Springwater, a booming but still rather backward frontier town, and she clashes wills with saloon owner Trey Hargreaves. Trey, conveniently, has invested some of his male seed to make a shy lil' girl for Rachel to mother over. Like they say, if he has baby, he's a catch, damn his faults and all. Wait, or is it the other way around - if he has a baby, flee, flee, flee? Anyway, this book's philosophy is the former.

Rachel is one of those overly-exaggerated prim and proper heroine who mistakes chronic cluelessness for propriety, virtue, and innocence. Naivete is not a virtue in my book, but I guess it is in this one. When she is not blustering and blabbering like a scrawny chicken being roasted on a spit, she is busy making excuses why she can kiss but never marry, okay, she can do a bit more than kiss but never marry, okay, okay, maybe she can grope too but NEVER marry, NEVER NEVER marry a saloon owner. Because saloon owners are bad. They are immoral. They don't go around asking strangers, "Are you an outlaw?" and hence not moral enough.

Then trots the shy little girl, and Rachel doesn't care anymore. Baby! Baby! A mother! She can be a mother, which is what she always dreamed of (but not if Social Services has anything to say about it)! Then she remembers, oops, she's not a virgin. That means Trey wouldn't want her! Oh, oh, oh!

Ms Miller has done the impossible. She made a mere 142 pages of disposable writing seem like 142,000,000,000 years of unspeakable anguish.

Rating: 05

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