Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-4877-9
Historical Romance, 2001
I stopped following this author’s The Cowboys saga after Chet, because I just can’t keep up with Leigh Greenwood’s super-duper cowboy family saga. Why, this author must be single-handedly responsible for populating half the fictitious Western America with cowboys. Matt is book nine of this series and I know there are four definite follow-ups.
I wonder, what next after The Cowboys? A widow with sixteen kids and a widower with nineteen kids get married? Think of the sequel possibilities, man. The Rabbit Breeders – thirty-six books in all! And if we set this series in 1801, we can also do their kids and grandkids of the kids too. Leigh Greenwood will have the rent well covered into 2080, and the world will tremble in fear as the cowboys keep breeding and breeding and breeding and breeding…
Anyway, enough nonsense.
Matt is a pleasant, easy, and okay romance. There’s nothing earth-shatteringly exciting, and I doubt I will remember this story after a month, but it’s okay while it lasts. Matt Haskins was sexually abused when he was just a kid, and now he just doesn’t like touching people or being touched intimately. But he has two adopted kids whom he will lose unless he gets married fast. Meanwhile, Ellen Donovan is facing the same problem – she will lose the two rambunctious kids she takes care of unless she too gets married. So what’s the obvious solution here? Ellen and Matt walk down the aisle, while the four kids glare at each other mutinously. We’re off on a great start, aren’t we?
The rest of the story deals with Matt and Ellen and their adopted kids dealing with each other. The author does a pretty great job here. Matt and Ellen talk, they play wise mediators to their kids’ squabbling among themselves or with the town folks who see the entire clan as pariahs, and, heck, they can open a school on parenting for everyone else, really. The pace starts to sag when the author just has to put in characters from his previous novels, taking up space with koochie-koochie family stuff. Finally, bad guys cause trouble, and Matt saves the day. The end.
Nothing is new here. Of course, Ellen won’t leave at the end of their business arrangement. Ellen too doesn’t like to be touched, but she and Matt would learn to touch each other everywhere soon enough. Of course the rebellious teenagers will be happy, Horlicks-drinking well-adjusted kids in the end – I fear I see sequels coming up soon. The bad guys will meet their just punishments, our hero’s family will be lauded and loved by everyone and the end, and I close the book with this feeling that, okay, I enjoy this book while it lasted.
But at the same time, there’s nothing particularly exciting in here either. Pleasant yes, but nothing resonates with me. But I won’t be rushing out to get the next book, I think. There’s something about all these large, extended family sagas that make me feel exhausted just thinking of keeping up with them.