by Genell Dellin, historical (2003)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-000147-X
Like most Native American romances, Genell Dellin's The Loner fits the "Idiot Loves Indian" billing perfectly. A childish girl - Cat is sixteen to the hero's twenty-six - and a hero that has captured her and now is torn between Lolita lust and half-hearted duty.
Black Fox Vann is a Cherokee Lighthorseman, which is like a lawman within the Cherokee reservation, I think. He is looking for an outlaw called the Cat. The Cat is a Robin Hood kind of outlaw, robbing the rich for the poor, but now the Cat has murdered someone and Black Fox can't let the Cat go on Robin Hooding anymore. Then one day he comes upon the Cat in some shooting spree with the bad guys. Cat is wounded, and Black Fox moves in to catch him. He is surprised to learn that Cat is actually Cathleen O'Sullivan.
I wonder what sort of moron will shorten her real name to use it as a moniker for her new career in crime. Ms Dellin explains that Cat is actually out to avenge her near-rape and the death of her parents on a scum, and Cat wants the bad guy to hear of the name Cat and thinks of Cathleen O'Sullivan instead. Yeah, it makes no sense to me too. Then Cat tells Black Fox that she didn't murder a guy, she just stole his money and went on her way. No, Black Fox doesn't believe her either.
Cat is sixteen. She acts sixteen, a very stupid sixteen. Her plans are often half-baked, her lies are inept, her truths are worse, and her escape plans are total flops. What she excels in though is in playing the willowy, helpless dumb bunny "innocent outlaw" girl that is helpless and hopelessly in love with her Noble Native American hero even as the both of them can't even trust each other. The story stumbles its way to the predictable confrontation with the villain, all the while portraying the romance between its main characters in a way that never transcend into anything resembling a mature attraction between two people.
By not letting her main characters develop beyond cardboard flatness and then sticking them into a half-baked plot that is predictable as much as it is tedious, Genell Dellin never manages to make The Loner anything more than a by-the-book Native American romance. Readers content with the sameness the subgenre has to offer may not have any complains, but everyone else may want to just stop for a second, look at the cover, wonder how the wind could have been blowing from two different directions at once (is a tornado approaching?), and then quickly move on to something else.
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