Breathless
by Laura Lee Guhrke, historical (1999)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-671-02368-3


I actually borrowed this book from dear Hildy and I don't know how to return it to her. You see, the dog-ears on these pages are caused by me crunching the pages in anger. The dent at the cover is due to the two times I threw the book down to the floor in disgust. This book made me so angry! And oh, what fun it was!

Hold that call to the lunatic asylum - I'm not senile. No, it's just that this book made me angry, laugh, and it was a fun ride all the way. I hate the hero and I had a wonderful time hating him. Puzzled? Never mind.

Lily Morgan is a disgraced outcast in the town of Shivaree after her no-good ex left her and ruined her reputation totally with the aid of Daniel Walker, his lawyer and best friend. Lily refuses to bow down and live her life in meek humility so she flaunt her fallen-stature around, stocking up the library where she is a librarian with controversial books and playing loud band music at night. Her moment of triumph arrives when she manages to get the local Judge to shut down the brothel where her ex used to frequent. The town brothel owner who has connections with political folks manages to get Daniel to step in and try to reopen the brothel. But not if Lily has her way!

She hates Daniel and with good reason. Here is a man who thinks she's a slut and helps her scoundrel ex to drag her into the mud. But lo, she has to be attracted to him. But no way is she going down without a big fight.

The fun is in the fight, a battle-of-the-sexes tug-of-war that had them trying to outwit each other. Lily isn't a stupid woman. She doesn't take any nonsense lying down and she fights tooth-and-nail every obstacles thrown her way. It is awful reading the way other townsfolk treat her as if she is dirt and her divorce is all her fault. When she breaks down after so many things thrown at her, I truly feel for her. Here is a gutsy woman born too early, out of her times. She deserves better.

And this is where a truly puzzling thing occurs. I am actually saddened to see her pair up with Daniel. Ooh, by the time this book ends, I have fried Daniel in oil three times, broke my rolling pin over his head probably twenty times, and if the book has another 100 pages that man would need reconstructive surgery to reattach his ear. Since I'm a genteel lady of mature years I'd restrict myself to calling this man a splendid imitation to a block of wood. He trusts his supposedly best friend utterly, a man who never writes and never calls after Daniel has given him what he wants (hey, that sounds... never mind). Till the very end he still believes his "best buddy" utterly. When he does feel guilty, he sums it up to Never let personal emotion cloud your job thingie. Sure, he has a standard abusive-daddy childhood, but I always believe childhood trauma is no excuse for trying so hard to be a block of wood. How dare he judge Lily, this man who defends criminals and lowlives so that he can be a senator? Someone hand me the grenade!

And I had a glorious time venting out my spleen at Daniel. It's fun. It's like going to a gym and totally destroying the punching bag with all your pent-up stress, frustration, and anger. In my mind, by the time Daniel was battered on the floor, groveling for mercy as I, starring as Lily Morgan, graciously let him kiss my dainty toes as a token of his absolute apology for destroying my life, I'm feeling much much better than when I first opened this book. I'm recommending this book for anyone who needs an outlet for her anger or anything.

Actually, I must comment the author whose skills are considerable in that she can make me enjoy a book with such a wood-brained hero. And Lily is a fun heroine. Now excuse me while I don my boxing gloves and reread this book.

Rating: 80


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