by Rebecca Goings, historical (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-685-X
When Alison Williams was fifteen, she decided that she was in love with 22-year old Talon Holt. However, he decided that he had to leave town so that Allie would be free to marry someone of her own race, what with him being a Comanche and all. Talon's story is like Heathcliff's in a way - he was picked up by a kind man and raised as one of the family. How noble of Talon to realize that he knows better than Allie what she wants in life and walks away like that!
Cut to 1872, five years later, where Allie realizes that she has been wagered by her father in a game of cards and she's now the future wife of Garrett Sumrall. Even if she finds a way to get out of this mess, she will have no place to stay because her father's ranch is now Garrett's as well. Garrett is fat and ugly, which is a given, because if he is hot and comes with a few mute little girls to mother, this will be a different story completely. Maybe that's the storyline for the next book in this series. Because Garrett is physically repulsive and therefore is disqualified from being a romance hero, Talon decides to come to Allie's rescue.
High Noon is a familiar story, but it is made even more forgettable by characters who behave predictably.
Allie is naturally this beacon of shining virtue, quietly being a martyr to her father's drunkard ways only to finally feel a little bit angry when she learns of the wager. She still loves Talon and her feelings have never changed one bit over the years. However, she is still "virtuous" enough to tell Talon to leave her alone because she doesn't want to burden the poor man with her problems. And then she's determined to marry Garrett because Garrett will kill her father if she doesn't comply. And so she goes, trying so hard to win the Mary Balogh's The Secret Pearl Award for the Noble Bleeding Feminine Heart of the Year. And yet, when Talon finally makes her marry him, she has tears in her eyes as she is finally so, so happy that she's now his wife. This woman can be so funny sometimes, I tell you.
Talon can be so funny as well. Now that five years have passed and he realizes that he loves Allie, he decides that the United Nations will approve of their union after all and he's going to marry her. He also decides that the wager between Allie's father Jed and Garrett wasn't fair because he says so, and he's also taking the ranch while he's at it, thank you very much.
Naturally Garrett doesn't take the defeat lying down. Ding, ding - round two's about to start!
The characters are familiar stereotypes, and with this being a short story, there isn't enough opportunity for them to become anything more than that. Still, the story in itself isn't bad at all. It's familiar, yes, but it's also readable as the author writes in a pretty engaging style. The characters may be stereotypes but I suppose I should be happy that they don't run around doing anything particularly stupid. All in all, therefore, this one is okay. It's not much of a compliment, I know, but then again, it's not as if the story can inspire me to muster the enthusiasm needed to say anything more lavish.
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