Autumn Star
by Lori Morgan, historical (2001)
Leisure, $4.99, ISBN 0-8439-4892-2

Autumn Star could have the poster book for why the Western subgenre is floundering like beached whales in the Nevada heat. The heroine has the intelligence of a lobotimized baboon, the hero displays the same old "I want revenge! I'm no good for you!" schmuck personality, and the plot relies so much on the heroine's falling into the smelly stuff and needing rescuing again and again. To top it off, she will tell him off that she doesn't need help, et cetera, after he has rescued her.

Sounds familiar? This is the same old nightmare that keeps me awake every night too.

Lacey Ashton, a city girl coming out West to meet her estranged now-together-again-4eva daddy, loses her money and possessions faster than you can say "Roadkill!" After wandering around homeless and starving for two days, she falls under the wheels of a carriage and dies on the spot. No, alas, she remains pure and beautiful - no food, no water to bathe for two days in the heat, and she's still pretty, yeah right - to attract the hero's attention. Unfortunately, that's after she's drunk a few glasses too many in a whorehouse. Not that she knows it's a whorehouse, mind you. She probably thinks that those scantily clad babes are fellow stray mongies like her and assumes that the place is the homeless shelter, for all I know.

Our I-want-revenge hero, who's also a fed marshal, who also believes that he is good only for soiled doves, fresh from shagging from Gold-Hearted Tart or something, saves Lacey from being molested and worse (why would one want to molest a skinny, starving, dirty stray cat anyway?). Lacey, however, is enraged. He thinks her a whore! Ooh! OOH! Flounce, pout, pout!

But coincidental circumstances force them together again. Look, Lacey runs! She falls! She gets into trouble! Save her, Morgan, save her! Save her from herself. As Lacey tries so hard to be one of the cowboys only to shriek when someone saves her from getting her head decapitated, the world starts to blur.

One thing I must say though: Ms Morgan succeeds in creating great chemistry between Morgan and Lacey. Heck, those two zing together so much, that keeps me reading. It's just too bad Ms Morgan's plotting and character development are a different story altogether. Oh yeah, a very different story, I must say.

Rating: 54

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