Caroline Lee, $2.99
Historical Romance, 2016
Little Red is a case of my expectations being misled by the packaging of this thing – look at the cover – and my own mistake of assuming that this story would be another twist on fairy tales in which the Little Red Riding Hood will be armed with crossbows hunting lycanthropes while doing sexy back flips in heels. Reading the synopsis, I know it’s set in the West, but little did I know this is actually a Western Western romance.
So, of course someone has to end up in a bed being TLC’ed back to health by the other lead character. In this case, our heroine Rojita is the one that ends up in that bed, so I guess hurrah for subversion. Alas, the rest of the story is pretty cookie cutter. Our heroine is on the run from the villainous El Lobo, the meanest SOB in the whole wild west, and she really needs to get to her gran’s place in Everland. She ends up coming to consciousness in our hero Hank Cutter’s cottage, and lucky for her, he is an action man enough to take care of all her problems. The climax of this story sees her wailing that he’s dumped her and will never come back to love her forever and ever, and that’s when I realize that those crossbow acrobat action scenes in high heels are really not going to happen. That’s what I get for looking at the cover and imagining that this is one of those feminist young adult fantasy stories.
I know, it’s my fault. This story is very readable, and I have no issues at all with its technical aspects. The pacing is good, the characters are likable… it’s just there is nothing here that feels extraordinary, and a mundane story is not something I am looking for during my reading slump phase. Everything feels so rote and formulaic. First, we have the whole bedside-awkwardness routine, then we have the road trip, and once we reach Everland, it’s a roll call of sequel baits while waiting for El Lobo to show and do the inevitable muah-ha-ha. The whole thing feels so done by the numbers.
Also, the heroine can be a little more active, perhaps? Maybe the author is aiming for old school realness, but Rojita’s overall passive role in the whole story is quite a disappointment to follow.
Oh, and one more thing. There are a quite a number of reviews out there complaining that this one is dirty, sexually explicit, whatever, and if those people could see me, I am giving them the side eye right now. Maybe those people read only traditional Regency or inspirational stories, because nothing here falls within the R-rated, much less NC-17, territory. Sure, there are whorehouses in a Western town – shocking, I know – and the heroine wants the hero to show her his gun, but come on, from the way these people go on about the “dirtiness” of this story, I half expect non-stop rides in the old town road from start to finish here. Which, of course, is also why I wanted to read this thing. Sigh.
I’d say this story is arguably a bit more violent than it is sexy (both of which isn’t much in the first place), but of course, some people find even a little intimacy far more heinous than cowboys swinging blows at one another.
Still, no matter. It’s pleasant enough, it doesn’t cost an arm and a kidney, and I can’t say I had a terrible thing reading it. I just wish Little Red had been a little bit more interesting.