Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29827-3
Historical Romance, 2015
Streetwise Anna O’Malley decides to get out of poverty by agreeing to be the mail-order bride of a wealthy rancher in California, even if it means that she will have to pose as a wealthy young lady in the process. Unfortunately, it’s not long before she shoots a man. To be fair, he and his partner show every indication of trying to rob the coach she and her friend are on, and shots are already fired when she reaches for that rifle. Alas, she knows very well that genteel ladies don’t shoot, so she’s now worried that word would go out to her husband-to-be Rafael Werner and possibly raise his suspicion about her.
Actually, the man she shot is Rafe. Ssh, don’t tell her – his brother Daniel and the men’s mother certainly won’t if you don’t. Apparently the whole thing is some kind of crazy stunt went wrong. Rafe only wanted to see his bride and Daniel went along just to ensure that nothing bad happens. Well, great job, Danny boy! Now, Daniel has to cover up for Rafe, who has a gunshot wound to hide both from Anna and the authorities, and in the process, spends so much time near Anna that he starts entertaining naughty thoughts about her.
Promised by Post is certainly interesting on paper, but I know I’m going to have trouble with this book when I have to reread the first few chapters and still don’t understand what Rafe and Daniel were thinking when they pulled that stunt. I know the author needs a reason to get things going in this story, but surely she could have come up with something less out there?
I like the fact that Anna is smart enough to know that something is not right with her new “family”, but she is in the dark for way too long in this story for me to buy her romance with Daniel. They are practically strangers still by the last chapter, as their whole relationship is steeped in lies, so I have no idea how these two are going to last past the honeymoon phase.
The biggest problem I have with this story is Daniel. I suppose he can be called an ass – he shows his ass more times than I’d have liked, at least – but there is something about him that is just off, as if not every part of his brain is screwed together right. For example, he’d take Anna to task for lying while conveniently forgetting that his own ass is sunk deep in the same crap, claim that his brother can have anybody and he is disgusted that she is just like the promiscuous tarts his brother hangs out with, and the final conflict in this story is he rejecting her after boinking her – because he believes that she is trying to come between him and his brother – and then telling Rafe that Rafe is going to have Daniel’s “leavings” if Rafe marries Anna. He flip-flops between hating and loving Anna every other handful of pages because he’s such an indecisive idiot, and throughout way too much of the story, he is a spineless mother’s boy and the whipped brother who would do anything for Rafe. Yes, he is definitely off his rocker when it comes to his “family before hos” policy. The fact that he expects Anna to drop down in joy and take him back when he decides that she is good enough for him is only icing on the Norman Bates cake.
At the end of the day, the heroine is marrying into a family where the husband is an asshole who wouldn’t hesitate to be very cruel as he flip-flops from wanting her to hating her, the brother-in-law is a useless idiot opportunist, and the mother-in-law is a complete crazy cuckoo psycho. I wouldn’t wish that fate even on my worst enemy… wait, I would, and I would watch the reality TV series that results too. But Promised by Post is supposed to be a romance with a happily ever after, so it’s all a no for me.