Zebra Splendor, $4.99, ISBN 0-8217-6386-5
Historical Romance, 1999
First off, the cover. Whose brilliant idea is it to put this prepubescent-looking brat in cowboy suit? Worse, he seems to be on the verge of doing something that is rumored to cause blindness. If this is supposed to be sexy, I must be living in the wrong dimension because I can’t help thinking Mickey Mouse Club each time I look at the cover.
And to make things worse, the heroine of this book really need some gingko biloba pills to boost her brainpower.
Let’s see, Pinkerton top detective Gabriel Walker is hot on the trail of a stagecoach robber and he has a suspect in mind: Joseph Kearney, owner of Kearney Station near Tucson, 1882, population in dire need of brain supplements. He encounters Joseph’s daughter Megan, decides to take her along as a bait to lure Joseph who has gone AWOL, and they fall in love. The usual.
Let’s start with Megan. She insists that Daddy is innocent and tells Gabriel to scram. Her reason for believing in Daddy’s innocent is because, well, she knows Daddy is innocent. Never mind that Daddy is a gambling addict who steals her lifetime savings for his gaming. Daddy’s innocent because she says so. Admirable filial piety, really, but when the whole story revolves around she succumbing to Gabriel’s manly kisses and caresses only to remember Daddy is innocent! and pushes him away, the story turns into a pointless tug-of-war, going round and round in a circle. Since Daddy never make a decent appearance until late, late in the story, all I have is Megan’s insistence that her Daddy is innocent. And in light of Daddy stealing her money which she has saved for years to get out of her life, her loyalty seems horribly misplaced. When she tearfully admits to Gabriel that her father can’t stand the sight of her, her adamant loyalty to that worthless idiot of a father makes her look like a complete Joan of Arc without the brains.
The story plods, thanks to the endless “Kiss me – no, no, stay away!” nonsense and a heroine who makes bean soup look like Einstein. A pity as there are some great lines in this story and some laugh-out-loud innuendos from Gabriel, who is a decent hero by the way. When the author isn’t making Megan a complete twit, she infuses Megan with some refreshing un-maidenly cunning that, should Ms Plumley keep it up, might save this story from being an insipid farce.
As it is, Lawman misses the bullseye.