Montana Man
by Jillian Hart, historical (2000)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29138-8


Miranda Mitchell is on the run from her father after her father forced her to marry an abusive man. Bounty hunters break down her door and try to shoot bullets at our heroine's dainty feet. While trying to board a train with a bounty hunter close at her heels, our heroine nevertheless has time to stand in the shadows and watch doctor hero Trey Gatlin coax his niece Josie onto the train.

Well, let me say it is not a good sign when Miranda hears that Josie's parents died in a train crash and promptly burst into womanly tears. Trey is so noble, and oh, oh, oh, poor Josie! (Huh? What bounty hunter?) Maybe it's just twisted ol' me who won't recognize a "heartwarming heroine" (*choke*) when I see it, but I recognize Wimp Alert danger signs right away.

Trey decides to take care of Miranda after she sobs out her sad story. Miranda, in turn, plays the Warm Maternal Momma to Josie, who must be a Care Bear in human disguise (shoot it, SHOOT IT!). Miranda makes my skin crawl with her wimpy tendency to be at the brink of tears whenever she feels anything. Overemoting in dramatic floods of tears or hysterics must be her specialty. And Josie is like a lil' girl, the perfect lil' girl in those disgusting sentimental movies where she bursts into tears at the proper cue, acts giggly when she needs to bring Josie and Trey together, and says the obligatory "hee-hee" Cute Things. She doesn't peek when Miranda and Trey get it going on, though, a pity, because I'm convinced Josie is actually an oily creepy female dwarf in disguise.

Trey's a nice guy, if a little bit too good to be true. But compared to Miranda's emotional floods, he is like an anchor of tranquility, a nirvana thingie.

Since Trey is obviously a wonder of a babysitter, the story could have ended after the obligatory Sexual Healing by Doc Montana here (Miranda has to get over her abusive suitor's fumbling, oh oh oh). But to keep it going, Trey has to do something rather stupid but understandable (he just want to save the kids), but Miranda takes it like a Betrayal Of All Betrayals, exaggerating it into an apocalyptic Treachery that has Ripped Her Heart, Dreams, and Soul Asunder. He has Betrayed Her. Obviously, the hero's hands-on tenderness for the last hundred plus pages is a Lie! No! NOOOO! NOOOO! AAAAHHHH!

So she packs her bags and runs. Right into danger. Yawn.

Montana Man could have been a pretty mundane, unexciting but still readable (in a comfort read way) nanny-frontier romance story, but the heroine's really overwrought mood swings ruin the party. Unfortunately, Montana Man with its same plot and all need all the party perks it can get. With Miranda, it not only drives this reader up the wall, it ruins the party before it even manages to get itself off the ground.

Rating: 51


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