TBR Review!

This review is for Keishon’s TBR Challenge; her suggested theme this month is Western, and I actually had one in my TBR heap.  Behold:I just have to include this cover in all its early 90s cheesy glory. I mean, it looks like sex on a tropical island, not winter in Colorado! Gotta love those covers.  Hey, the heroine’s hair is red, at least.

I enjoyed reading this book, and I’ve added the other books in this series (there are five Dennehy sisters, and they each get a book. Even the nun.)  I don’t think it is quite the quality of Goodman’s more recent writing, but that isn’t surprising — good authors get better, I think, and that’s not to say that this book isn’t good.  But the things I liked about it most are the things I see done even better in her more recent work (which is all I had read until this foray into the backlist).

Things I like include the setting; like some of Goodman’s more recent works, this book is set in the American West, and I love that.  There’s a different vibe than in English society. This book even has scenes back East, and I think Goodman captures 19th century America pretty well.

I like the heroine, Mary Michael.  She is very much a woman of her time, but she’s a woman with ambition — there had to be some of those, right?  I’ve always loved stories about the women in history who pushed for equality in various ways.  Michael (all five sisters are Mary-something, so they use their middle names) wants to be a newspaper reporter, and her scenes with newspaper men remind me very much of Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. I was almost sorry when the plot moved on from there, although the scenes of her working as a dance hall girl and barmaid were pretty entertaining.

The tension in the main romantic relationship is written well, and the reasons why they can’t easily trust each other are solidly established.  Goodman is very good at entwining an action plot with a romance so that they are fully integrated, each moving the other along.

What I most didn’t like about the book was the violence between the two main characters. He hits her TWICE, and even though it’s presented as necessary because of the masquerade he’s pulling off, I didn’t think he was sorry enough for it.  I also was bothered by their inability to be honest with one another — after surviving life-threatening circumstances by working together, I didn’t like that they could let pride and the fear of rejection keep them from demanding honesty.

I was glad that the story included the trial and punishment of the villains — Goodman always sees justice done in her books, which I appreciate.  But the last part of the book didn’t work as well for me, even as I was enjoying meeting the sequel bait sisters.  Part of that is my aversion to a particular plot device popular in Harlequin Presents.

Nonetheless, this was a WIN for me.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kim in Hawaii
    Oct 22, 2010 @ 00:26:50

    Aloha! I agree with your assessment of the cover – looks like they are in Hawaii! But it is a fab throw back to “those 90s cheesy covers.”

    Thanks for your review – the good and the not so good. Regarding the violence, it would disturb me too. But then I think of historicals written in the 80s that had more violence. Perhaps authors found evidence that men were violent to women in the Wild West, Medieval Scotland, etc.

    You also wrote, “I also was bothered by their inability to be honest with one another.” This seems to be the “conflict” that authors create between the hero and heroine. It would annoy me, too.

    I am a fan of Jo Goodman so I will hunt for this book!

    Reply

    • sonomalass
      Oct 22, 2010 @ 19:39:19

      Kim, I know some readers aren’t bothered by the violence — it is in a particular plot context where it seems “necessary.” I could almost accept that, if later he had been more remorseful. My threshold for violence between lovers is extremely low, due to personal experience; in some ways it bothers me more when both characters excuse it. Of course it is somewhat different in a historical context, but I continue to believe that there are some things that are just wrong, and even in historical periods when that behavior is accepted, truly heroic characters will recognize that it’s wrong. It lessened the hero in my eyes.

      Yes, they do look like they are in Hawaii. I hope to be there in the spring myself!

      Reply

  2. Trackback: Wot I Read in October « Sonomalass's Blog

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