Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29795-5
Historical Romance, 2014
Rachel Sutter’s husband Robert is finally dead. That man was a useless gambler and a total failure in providing for his family, and he made it clear to Rachel long ago that her land was the main reason he’d deigned to woo her in the first place. Still, Rachel isn’t going to be dancing on the man’s grave anytime soon. She has to find a way to feed her brother and her adopted son somehow, and it’s quite hard to be a woman and a breadwinner when she has nothing to her name. She wouldn’t put out for money, however, even if putting out means feeding the supposedly beloved members of her family, because her mother was a skanky woman and Rachel would rather see everyone she loves die before she spreads her legs for money. Oh, she wouldn’t want them to die, but she won’t put out either, so she just stands there and scrunches her face at the hero most of the time, her mouth always poised to launch accusations of all kinds about his dastard antics.
Caleb Beckett is a drifter, a cowboy, whose old flame betrayed him, blah blah blah – and he’s the one who brings Robert’s corpse back to his widow. Oh, and he springs some great news on her: Robert used her land as his collateral, and guess who the new owner of the land is.
Caleb doesn’t want to throw out the widow and her family, but he doesn’t know what to do with them or the land as well as he never expects to settle down in one place. Still, his conscience dictates that he should stay a while, especially since Rachel is being harassed by the token greedy SOB that only wants her land.
Caleb decides that maybe he can stay and pretend to be the ranch hand, while he pays Rachel to take care of the place. This is an arrangement that they will keep between themselves naturally.
Rachel is not happy because he has “stolen” her land and she doesn’t want his charity. She seems really eager to pack her family off so that they can all starve, all the way letting Caleb know of what he has consigned her to by winning a card game fair and square.
Caleb helps get rid of the SOB for a time being.
Rachel screeches that he is not the boss of her and she could have taken care of herself, thank you very much. (She can’t.)
He suggests that maybe he can loan her the money and she can pay off the SOB.
She is furious because she will not accept charity, and besides, she’s not some kind of whore who would put out for money, thanks very much, all men are pigs, everyone please hashtag #whitemenareherpes and un-follow a man today.
She hates it (okay, she likes it, but she refuses to like it, even if she likes it, because she doesn’t like it – that kind of thing) and she hates the fact that she is becoming a whore like her mother.
Hmm, she thinks that he kisses a bit too well.
He must be married! She must confront him and insist that he tell the truth, because #menareworsethanHPV.
They make out.
No! No whore! No whore! Caleb is turning her into a whore! No!
Caleb helps her out again.
Not the boss of her, she could have taken care of herself, she is not a whore… the usual drill.
The climax of the story sees her accusing Caleb of pretending to be honorable when all he wants to do is to seize control of her life, and it’s his fault that she has no land, nothing. Oh, and she’d now go become a whore for the bad guy now, since Caleb left her with nothing so he has better not forget that everything is his fault.
Of course, in the end, she decides that she’s a hypocrite and a loser for driving the man away when all he has done is to protect her in all sincerity without expecting anything in return. Good for her, but this is one hag that deserves to lose everything because of her irrational paranoia and shrewish behavior. Oh, I know, she had a horrible marriage and a sad childhood, but she can take all that and choke on it. She could have married Caleb in an arrangement that would have given her and her family security and stability, but instead she spends nearly all her time insisting that she would never be like her mother while not doing anything other than to blame the hero for everything or resent him for being kind to her and her family. She subjected me to her relentless episodes of moronic behavior up to her convenient epiphany, making me roll up my eyes more times than I could keep count. She doesn’t want to be a whore? Here, let me jam a pick up her nostril.
There is something here that has me thinking that perhaps I’d like a book by this author under other circumstances. Caleb is a dreamy hero, a reluctant knight in shining armor who is just adorable, and there are glimmers of authentic tenderness in some of the author’s scenes. But she also allows Rachel to charge ahead in man-hating dumb rhino mode for too long, and epiphany comes way too late for me to believe that she won’t drive the two of them crazy three months into the marriage.
Maybe next time, Ms Boyce.