Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-521-3
Historical Romance, 2008
Let me cut straight to the case and tell you what my problem with Alanna Coca’s Wyoming Solace is. After enduring seven years of her husband Jonathan’s abuse, our heroine Mary Elise Vickerson Stanton decides in the prologue to flee that man. Good for her! She travels with an elderly gentleman friend, Daniel, who pretends to be her husband to throw off any of Jonathan’s men who may be looking for her. And yet, she decides to go by Elise Vickerson or Mary Vickerson, depending on what folks are addressing her as (she will respond to both names). Don’t ask me. Maybe the effort of coming up with a completely fake name, like Mary Sue Darling, is beyond our poor darling’s intellectual capacity. But that’s not the worst of it. Elise flees… back to her hometown where she plans to spend months building back the rundown ranch belonging to her father.
I don’t know about anyone else, but if I’m going to be spending months in my hometown while jumping at shadows because I’m worried that my abusive husband has found me, I’d at least change my hair color and adopt a completely fake name that does not resemble my real name even a little. But perhaps they do things differently in the land of beautiful romantic love back in 1870, eh?
Our hero Cody Campbell remembers Mary as a little girl back in those days but he is not too pleased with her return since he is planning to buy the V-Bar himself. In fact, he has come to believe that the ranch is as good as his. Love, I tell you, can only bloom when the two of them first meet and start screaming at each other like silly children over who gets to own the V-Bar. They are already macking lips on page 24, so they are really working faster than hormonal kids at the end of Spring Break.
The rest of the story is familiar as our heroine imagines that she has found her true self while mucking around the ranch and loving our hero while our hero of course gets to play the knight in shining armor. The story is readable because the writing is clean and serviceable, the pacing is fine, and I like how Ms Coca attempted to show that the heroine has experienced some character growth as the story progresses.
The problem here is that I’m still puzzling over the premise of the story long after it is over. Truly now, Ms Coca could have come up with a more plausible reason to have Mary or Elise or whatever our heroine wants to call herself returning to Wyoming, right?