Fortune's Return
by Jamie Craig, contemporary (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-453-7


Yes, there is a ranch. Yes, there are cowboys rogering each other here. That movie adaptation of Brokeback Mountain has a lot to answer for, I tell you.

The "fortune" in the title is a reference to the ranch called the Golden Fortune. Our city slicker hero Ryan Putnam grew up in that ranch and now he's back home at last after being completely whipped by unhappy circumstances. He lost his job and boyfriend so he's back with his tail between his legs, hoping to crash in the guest bedroom (his brother Clay runs the ranch now) as he figures out where he is going to go from that point in his life. In "I need to rethink my life in a lovely rustic location" stories of this sort, there is always a handsome hunk waiting to sweep the main character off his or her feet, and in this story it is ranch hand Teo Mendez, a single father who is hoping to start a new life with his son in the Golden Fortune.

Fortune's Return is predictable, right down to the appearance of Ryan's ex-boyfriend later in the story, but that's okay. This story is a most readable kind of predictable because the characters are fine and likable and the minor dramas in the relationship get cleared before they bleed into toxic big misunderstanding melodramas. The characters also listen to each other most of the time, which is good.

Only, and this is subjective from reader to reader, I know, I am not too fond of how manufactured some of the conversations are in this story. I find it hard to believe that someone with Teo's background will say something like this unless he is a closet Oprah talkshow junkie:

"What I said before you left. That wasn't about you. I know this isn't about the sex for you. You wouldn't have paved the way with Duena for me if it was. But what I said... that was about me, and how much I didn't think you'd want me around if it wasn't for the sex."

This one from Teo, especially, makes me cringe:

"I never said it was completely rational. But look at it from my perspective for a second. I dropped out of high school. You have a college degree. I spent my days with horses, working the land. You spent yours with kids, teaching them things I couldn't figure out with a calculator. Is it so hard to believe that I'd go straight to the one thing I knew I could do right for you?"

No, but I find it so hard to believe that a high school drop-out would speak like that.

I guess you can say that my biggest issue with Fortune's Return is how the characters don't seem to stay in character but instead behave like wish fulfillment fantasy figures for folks out there who like to read about hot boys doing each other.

Rating: 74


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