Dell, $5.99, ISBN 0-440-33365-2
Historical Romance, 1999
Sweeter Than Sin has heroine Kate Remington, adopted daughter of the wealthy Remington family, fleeing the family after losing her crush Charles (the eldest Remington son) to an upcoming marriage with another woman, and accidentally sleeping with another brother Jude. Okay, maybe you’re now wrinkling your nose in distaste and murmuring “Eh?”, but the story’s okay with me. It’s what I expected from someone like Ms Garland. In fact the plot so far has me hooting in delight. Surely something this overblown and ridiculous has to be fun!
Alas, not really.
Kate runs off to the West, marries a nice roguish disgraced reporter, and together they set up a paper in a town. They embark on a crusade to expose the injustice sheepherders face from laws and villainous cattlemen, resulting in the husband’s murder. Kate now wants revenge on the chief cattleman. Meanwhile dear Charles who never married – he realized it was Kate he loves back then – seeks to find Kate, not exactly knowing what he wants to do with her, but find her he will. He eventually finds her and discovers that Kate is hard-pressed financially to continue running the paper. Her nom de plume is stirring up so much trouble among the cattle people that the whole town is starting to feel like a world war waiting to happen.
Sounds quite a ride so far, right? But this is only the first few chapters. The story from here really begins to drag. Kate starts to become really irrational. If you’re hard-pressed to find money and then voila, an anonymous benefactor gives you a big loan with minimum interest and generous payback time, of course you take the money. Right? Then your old crush turns up right after you receive the check from this anonymous benefactor. This man is so helpful… so kind and supportive… and rich. Ding dong. Can you hazard a guess who the anonymous benefactor is? Kate can’t. But when she does find out, she refuses to take the money. While at the same time she bends her principles and writes small lies in her papers to appease her sponsors the railway barons. Huh?Does that sound like a rational woman, anybody?
If Kate is irrational, Charles is boring. He does good deeds like rescuing young girls from the local brothel but he isn’t very interesting. He seems colorless to me. In fact, the whole story eventually turns rather flat. There are many misunderstandings, bickering, and scenes that go nowhere. I began to tune out the story midway through and it is only at the surprising ending that my interest resurged. Alas, one more page after that and it was the epilogue. Bummer.
My conclusion? Sweeter Than Sin isn’t particularly exciting. The most interesting character may be Jude, but then again, he is so underdeveloped that he remains a blur in my mind.