Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29835-8
Historical Romance, 2015
Rebecca Lane was left under the care of her stern and controlling aunt when she was a child. Her father decamped when she was born, and her mother couldn’t raise her on her own. Now, all alone in the world except for her cousin and an aunt who continues to treat her like a freak for being tall and gangly, Rebecca has had enough of her status quo after one humiliating social event too many. Her aunt wants to marry her off to a butcher whose temperament she doesn’t agree with at all, so Rebecca decides to try her luck by seeking out the grandfather she only knows by the stories passed down to her.
As it happens, she is welcomed with open arms by the old man, and her presence brightens up the man’s days. Our hero, Lantree Walker, knows this. But he remains wary of her because he can’t help but to wonder why his employer’s estranged granddaughter shows up after all this while. The timing is a bit suspicious. The usual greedy corporate bastards every ranch romance must have want old Hershal’s land, and Lantree wonders whether Rebecca is with the enemies, slowly softening up Hershal for the kill.
Wed to the Montana Cowboy has the cute kind of romance I’ve come to expect from this author. Lantree and Rebecca are nice likable sorts, their angst doesn’t drag them down into becoming sourpuss killjoys, and there are some nice romantic moments here. However, this is also one story riddled with problems.
The biggest issue here is that Rebecca is usually pretty smart, but when the author needs an excuse to generate drama, Rebecca would then walk off alone into the woods and such. I know, our heroine is a sheltered town girl, but come on now. Will any sane person take one look at the great wilderness and immediately think. “Hey, I want to go for a walk alone and unarmed. What can go wrong?” Rebecca’s tendency to wander off into trouble is grating after the second or third time she gets nearly raped or molested or whatever as a result. Lantree knows that Rebecca shouldn’t be walking off alone, but neither he nor the other people around the place warn or stop her. No, Lantree prefers to whip himself instead after Rebecca gets into his trouble. It’s his fault! He should have trailed after her and spy on her! Oh, that idiot – I guess it’s too much work to warn her not to go out alone?
Making things worse is how the second half of the book shifts from a pleasant Western romance to a tale of cartoon villains that just keep coming. These villains aren’t subtle even a little, they are so evil that they would embarrass Elmer Fudd and make that fellow consider an early retirement out of shame. Between these goofballs and Rebecca’s constant getting into trouble, Wed to the Montana Cowboy starts to resemble a Looney Tunes episode, but without any knowing humor to make the silliness enjoyable.
Wed to the Montana Cowboy has its moments, but on the whole, it goes from romance to tomfoolery way too abruptly and ridiculously for me to take it seriously.