Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29799-3
Historical Romance, 2014
Jericho Silver, our hero. is the sheriff of Lake County, Oregon. He likes doing things on his own, his own way, so he’s not pleased when the Pinkerton Detective Agency sends him a telegram to inform him that an Agent Madison is coming over to help Jericho bust a gang of train robbers in the area. Imagine his surprise when Madison O’Donnell shows up at the train station, looking far too feminine for Jericho to believe that she is capable of anything other than getting killed. She insists that she’s not going anywhere, however, and he’s stuck with her. This is going to be fun, right?
The Lone Sheriff has bouncy prose and some snappy conversations, but I can’t overcome my disappointment at how the author takes a potentially interesting premise and turns it into another typical and familiar tale.
The hero spends the first third of the story all but personally pushing the heroine back into the train – he won’t even let her restock her bullets because he just doesn’t get that a woman can use a gun well – so imagine my dismay when the author decides to prove the hero right. Madison talks big about being a hot shot, but it is soon revealed that she spent her time back in Chicago doing menial things – doing reports, delivering reports – and this is her first field assignment. By the middle of this story, Madison has voiced her doubts that she can actually shoot from her gun and more. So yes, Jericho is right: Madison is out of her depths here. She’s just a city girl who thinks she can find some excitement by heading out to this part of the world. This is a pity, because the hero spends a while denigrating her abilities, and having him eat his words would have been a great reason to keep me reading.
The rest of the story follow a familiar dynamics: the hero is in charge, the heroine hastens to keep up. She also starts crying, wanting to save the world, and generally being more enthusiastic than capable. As I’ve said, it’s disappointing how this one ends up doing the same dance and song. It’d be nice to have a different kind of story that is worthy of a Pinkerton Agent heroine.
The hero’s trust issue forms the basis of the internal conflict between him and Madison. He has to trust himself, trust his heart, so that he can open up to others – you know, that kind of thing. The thing is, I’m not sure how the heroine proving him right is supposed to get him to trust her abilities, so the hero’s getting over himself feels like something that just happens because the ending is near and we need the couple to walk off happily into the sunset. The author also has the heroine being lauded for her abilities, when I am not sure that I have seen any actual investigative ability from her. Madison is just another typical heroine here who never overshadows the hero by actually doing what she is said to be great at.
The Lone Sheriff is readable due to the author’s cheerful and punchy style, but her decision to force her characters into a more familiar formulaic mold prevents the tale from being memorable. It’s easy to read, and just as easily forgotten.