by Delores Fossen, historical (2001)
LoveSpell (Wink And A Kiss), $4.99, ISBN 0-505-52430-9
Delores Fossen's Saddled is a lively, bouncy, and readable Western romance. Yes, it concerns another marriage-for-convenience story, but it's a good one. It's just that, well, these two characters Rio McCaine and Abbie Donegan don't have much trust between each other. That's the bad thing. The good thing is they don't shout and scream at each other in some misunderstanding scenario much. But I'm not sure if they living happily without trusting each other a better alternative scenario.
Abby needs a hubby to (a) put off fortune hunters and (b) rescue someone from Apache renegades. Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that, but Abby isn't telling. She herself has escaped from the Apaches and she is considered ruined (even if, fear not gentle readers, she isn't). Rio's useless half-brother has absconded with what's left of the family money after running the family ranch to the ground, and he needs money. Abby offers to pay off his debts, and he's not above prostituting himself to this hot babe. So there they go, down the aisle.
The story starts with a great bang. Then it starts petering off into patchy pacing (two chapters of people telling Abbie and Rio over and over again that the marriage idea is crazy, for example) or Abbie waffling her bargain that is just not cool. If I am Rio, I would have walked on out her. Abby is an irritating creature who expects Rio to just understand and follow her orders when she springs the surprise on him. But Rio doesn't care. Apparently, bedding Abby is enough incentive to keep hanging on, his tongue touching the ground in his panting. It's rather sad to see him like this.
There is just too many unnecessary secrets on Abby's part, and that ruins this story. It's really too bad, because Abby is not stupid and Rio is a decent character. Their story could be beautiful and fun, but alas, it's not.
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