It’s the New Year, and time for me to catch up on that backlog of book reviews, over the next couple of weeks (I hope!). One post that has been sitting in my draft folder for the longest time, is that follow-up to the Great Western Drive spearheaded by Kristie, Sybil and Wendy some months back.
Well, I had the chance to read through several Western romances from different eras in the last couple of months: Diablo (1990s), The Scotsman Wore Spurs (1997) by Patricia Potter, and Never Love A Lawman by Jo Goodman (2009). Without further ado, here’s how they stack up in my books …
I have Kristie to thank for pointing me in the direction of Diablo. I’ve read other books by Patricia Potter but never touched any of her Western romances until the Great Western Drive. And since the UBS I visited carried The Scotsman Wore Spurs, I took that out on rental too.
A brief summary on Diablo … Kane o’Brien, a.k.a Diablo, was sentenced to death when a US marshal who wanted information on a secretive, and notorious outlaw hideout called Sanctuary, approached him with a deal. Find out where it is, and he and his friend would be pardoned. However, nothing prepared him for temptation in the form of Nicole Thompson when he rode in to Sanctuary.
Raised in that notorious hideout amongst killers and thieves, Nicky learned to shoot fast, ride hard, and hold her own against the men. Yet when Diablo rode into town, with a dangerous quiet strength and a hint of deviltry in his smile, her heart raced not with fright but with sizzling arousal. Circumstances beyond their control would throw them together in a bid to save her family against a sinister plot and tear both their loyalties apart. Would a renegade hungry for freedom jeopardize his dangerous mission for a last chance at love?
This book has several things working for it. It’s not just a classic cowboy marshal shoot-out tale that’s commonly found in the movies. There’re enough conflicted loyalties, side plots and twists in this book to satisfy the reader hungering for the melodrama of a good ole’ fashioned epic in the likes of Gone with The Wind. While there was action, there was also equal parts emotional struggles and poignant moments to quench the romance thirst. In fact, I was hoping to read the follow-up, The Marshall and the Heiress, but have no luck tracking down that book yet.
However, I was fortunate to have The Scotsman Wore Spurs, which is actually the third book in this trilogy. This book that is loosely linked to the other two, and I was actually intrigued by the back cover description:
Andrew Cameron, Earl of Kinloch, came to America to forge a new life free of emotional ties. But when he saved a Texas rancher from an ambush, he found
himself deeply entangled–and suddenly employed as a cattle drover. Scrawny, scruffy young Gabe Lewis joined the drive too, sparking Drew’s compassion. The boy couldn’t do much right, but Drew had never met anyone with more determination. Then, under the grime and baggy clothes, Drew accidentally
uncovered beautiful Gabrielle Parker, acting the role of her life–to unmask her father’s killer.
Now Drew and Gabrielle are locked in a passionate dance of secrets and seduction as wild as the frontier they ride….
Although Gabrielle’s headstrong character and misguided omission, and deception, didn’t really sit that well with me at certain parts of the story, the author made up for it with a good cast of hero and other secondary characters. I actually kind of like the gruffly Kirby Kingsley, whose role as a mentor figure to both protagonists, was very well fleshed out. The ending was a bonus with the ex-marshal Ben Masters and Diablo showing up to trap the killer.
IMB rating for
The Scotsman Wore Spurs: 3.5
There isn’t many early American romances written nowadays, so when you get hold of one, be sure to hang on to it. Never Love A Lawman by Jo Goodman warrants the praises it’s received from numerous readers. In fact, it was the review by Jane of DearAuthor which made me want to read this book.
Then, I read the back cover description on Amazon and was further convinced:
Rachel Bailey may seem like just a beautiful newcomer to most of Reidsville, Colorado, but Sheriff Wyatt Cooper knows she’s much more. Through a twist of fate, Rachel is the inheritor of a very valuable commodity: control of the railway that’s keeps the isolated mining town connected to the world. That is, she will be, if she agrees to the surprising stipulation in her benefactor’s will – that she marry Wyatt.
Rachel has no choice: refusing the marriage could put all of Reidsville in the hands of an outsider – and not just any outsider, but the cruel tyrant she has come here to escape. Yet living with Wyatt will be her greatest challenge. For he has a tempting way about him that makes Rachel forget theirs is a marriage in name only – until her frightening past shows up to remind them exactly how much they have at stake…
What about the book worked for me?
Well, the setting and pace was just right. It was unhurried and read like the sauntering pace it’s meant to progress. Then, there was Rachel’s slightly starchy behaviour and the back-and-forth verbal sparring between Wyatt and her that made it so entertaining. The wry humour underlining their exchanges certainly made for a lot of fun. And all the cowboy speak and sexy drawl … simply wonderful.
The various sideplot (two budding romances on the side, and the mystery behind Rachel hiding in Reidsville) only made the small western town seemed more colourful and full of character. I thought Clinton Maddox, Rachel’s rich benefactor and rumoured sugar daddy, and his far-sighted meddling and match making was a brilliant stroked of sheer genius, which worked out well for Wyatt and Rachel in the end. Watching the two of them dance around each other and slowly learning to trust and then fall in love was such a joy. It made me recall the myriad reasons why I love reading romances. So, even if it was a tad too convenient for the author to endow Wyatt with a law degree, and a family in the banking business, and being the town’s sheriff to boot, I think most reader would forgive or overlook that and just simply enjoy the story for what it is: a warm and well written romance with a very happy ending.
IMB rating: 4.5