Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 0-8439-5095-1
Historical Romance, 2003
The person who write the back cover synopsis of this book should be dunked face-first into a vat of that horrid Vanilla Coke. Nobody should be subjected to horrors like this classic: “… to bury himself in the softness of a girl who was not his to take”. I can only imagine the reaction of a curious reader who drops this book like burning coal, vowing never to touch a romance novel again. Maybe a hundred disgruntled ex-RWA members plotted with that person to stick our ex-RWA President up for this humiliation?
Having said that, Leigh Greenwood’s latest book Born to Love is part of the Night Riders series. It’s a predictable, adequately written but bizarrely inconsistent book that inspires a lukewarm reaction from me.
The Very Important American War has just ended and now our Yankee hero Holt Price is in Galveston to look for his “true love” Vivian, who was separated from him during the war. Instead, our doctor finds himself coming to the aid of the drunk local doctor, and this drunk Doctor Moore soon manipulates him into staying in town. Never mind the selfishness of such actions – if you don’t know that in romance novel small towns it is always better to serve the herd than oneself, you are probably new to the genre and I wish you good luck and may your idealism never erodes like mine did long ago. Felicity Moore, the daughter of the drunk doctor, provides added incentive for Holt to stay on.
Basically, the characters in this book are almost uniformly similar in conversation nuances. Felicity is supposed to be an independent heroine while Holt is a man with issues where alcoholism and war are concerned, but the author deals with these characters with an uneven hand. Dr Moore can’t make up his mind whether to be misunderstood, sympathetic, or just be a pain in the behind. Felicity and Holt seem to change their minds and even personality from chapter to chapter, with bewildering character motives coming to the forefront just for the sake of creating external conflicts. The biggest among these questionable motives is Felicity’s letting her father treat his patients again and again when it’s obvious that the doctor is the biggest threat to his patients, even as she disapproves of Holt for some vaguely defined reasons.
The author also uses the biggest contrivance of all: Vivian, Holt’s “true love” turns out to be a shrill and shallow twit. It makes a clean and convenient resolution to this story, but it also makes Holt comes off like a truly ridiculous fool to even come this far to look for her in the first place.
The author’s prose is clean if wooden and stilted at places, but all will still be okay if the characters at least behave consistently to situations. But in this book, most of the characters’ actions really don’t make sense. Born to Love is an adequate story, sort of like a somewhat stale bread one could eat in between meals. Of course, there are probably many better books out there as well. Maybe one would need a truly creative reason – like kinship to the author and a genuine desire to protect the public from bad book blurbs everywhere – to buy this book. It’s up to you.