Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-611-6
Historical Romance, 2008
Miss Fix-It is an inspirational romance, so you’re bound to find mentions of God pretty often in this story. As these inspirational romances tend to have, the hero is the one who has lost his way and the heroine, of course, is the one who will lead him back to the fold.
First, a note about the categorization of this story. It is marketed as “inspirational romance” at the publisher website and the setting is so self-contained and devoid of any specific details about the time period. I am hard-pressed to guess whether this is set in the late 19th century, early 20th century, or present day. There are mentions of ranches and trains, and that’s about it as far as details go. The women exhibit what could have been a traditional and limited perception of their roles in society (for example, the heroine’s mother feels unable to function without her husband around), but I hesitate to say that such perception is exclusively limited to women of that time era, if you know what I mean, especially when I take into consideration that this book is an inspirational romance. Don’t ask me to elaborate – you know I will get into trouble with some people if I do. It is only after combing through LC Monroe’s website do I find a confirmation on the book listing page that this one is a historical romance.
Anyway, back to the story. The hero is lost, figuratively speaking, and needs to be found. It’s a good thing that Virginia “Ginney” Pembrook is up for the task. She is quite a know-it-all when it comes to matters of the heart who also happens to be right pretty much all the time. She knows that she and Caleb Jasper are meant to be, it’s just a matter of time, and, when this story begins, she decides that now is the time. Therefore, she persuades her mother Ruth to accompany her as she boards a train to Oregon. Apart from letting Caleb know that they’re going to be together forever, Ginney also plans to put matters right between Uncle Silas Andrews and her daughter Phoebe. Phoebe, you see, is in love with Caleb’s brother Beau and while Ginney knows that Phoebe and Beau will be good together, Uncle Silas begs to differ. Also, Ginney hopes that the bustle of fixing people’s lives in Oregon will help her mother move on from the death of her husband a year or so ago.
Actually, Caleb and Ginney aren’t that close. She last saw him three years ago and that was during one of the last trips her late father made to Oregon. But Ginney believes that she’s in love with Caleb because of the way Caleb cared for her very ill father and also because Caleb is a man similar to Reverend Pembrook (or so she thinks), since Caleb wants to be a preacher. As the authors put it:
His love for the Lord was more of an aphrodisiac than anything else on earth.
I know, an inspirational romance where the heroine actually admits to having sexual desires, even in such a discreet manner – who would have thought, eh?
Alas, she soon realizes that within those three years her romantic notions of Caleb and the reality that is Caleb have gone separate ways. For one, he has given up his dreams of being a preacher because… okay, I’m not sure myself why this guy is being the way he is, so please bear with me. All I know is this: Caleb asked God one day to let him know whether he should be a preacher. Yes, he wanted to be a preacher, inspired that he was by Reverend Pembrook, but with him being such a devoted Christian, I suppose he felt that he needed God’s approval in his career choice. But then his father had a bad fall soon after and became invalid, thus Caleb had to step up and take over the running of the ranch. He believes that Beau, his younger brother, resented Caleb for this because Beau wanted to be the one to take over the ranch. Caleb also feels that he is failing the family by not being the non-smoking equivalent of the Marlboro Man where cowboy duties are concerned.
Don’t ask me why Caleb just can’t let Beau take over the ranch and do his own thing. He thinks that God made his father a cripple as a personal method of appointment of Caleb as the head of the family. If you ask me, I don’t think Caleb is being a good Christian as much as he is being this egotistical freak who thinks that the world and even God revolve around him and him alone. Oh no, Daddy lost his legs, how terrible it is for Caleb! Why doesn’t the world understand how horrible it is for Caleb to deal with such a crippled condition!
And one look at Beau and I can understand why Uncle Silas wants his daughter to be far away from that man. The Jasper brothers are all cut from the same cloth: they must think that if they play the martyr and whine loud enough, they will look so pretty on their own crucification party. These two men whine so annoyingly that everything is about them to the exclusion of everyone else, it’s ridiculous. Beau can’t have Phoebe, so oh, it’s all about Beau. Not once does he imagine how Phoebe must be feeling. Even when he has the chance to fight for Phoebe’s love, he’d rather sit back and whine that he’s not good enough for her. Okay, I think he is right, but that’s not the point. The point is that he and his brother are so annoying, they should just hold hands and throw a bitter pity party for two.
The story is full of sentimental moments involving lost wayward children looking for love and other fluffy feel-good nonsense, but I have to say, these scenes don’t make me cringe that much. No doubt this is because those scenes are so pleasant compared to the monastic order of bitter that are the Jasper brothers. I know, Ginney’s job in this story is to let sunshine into the belfries inside the two morons’ heads and drive away the bats, that kind of thing, but I don’t think it’s worth her time as these two men are not that good a catch for a sane woman. Let me put it this way: Caleb has to be removed from his position before he starts feeling happy and this happens only in the last page. What happens later on when he’s in another difficult situation? Given how he spends the entire story remaining in that position that he is miserable in and whining non-stop that God hasn’t sent him a personal love letter telling him that God loves him and appreciates his sacrifices, I have no doubt that this is his standard operating procedure. And even a rather contrived but sweet bag of sunshine like Ginney deserves better than such a man.