by Lisa Higdon, historical (2000)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-6660-0
What would you do if you rush out in your best dress to greet your true love who is returning home from war... only to see him helping a very pregnant woman down the train? And worse, she's his wife?
For Southern belle Olivia Chandler, she becomes very, very angry, but the nice proper demure lass she is, she runs away instead of showing the man her dainty middle finger. That's nice, I thought, a lady with class.
That's the prologue. In Chapter 1, the other woman has thoughtfully Died, and now the hero Matthew Bowen asks Olivia to marry him so that she can help him raise the daughter Sarah. Olivia relents for the Sake of The Daughter, but she isn't going to let that man get anywhere near her, not after what he did to her. Is she?
Well, this story is interesting, that's for sure, and there are so much possibilities of a long, drawn-out screaming match, with probably some crockery smashed against the wall too. Unfortunately, the author cops out. Instead of a direct confrontation between Matthew and Olivia, she relies on easier but not more credible plot machinations, such as the matchmaking, cheerleading Aunt Eula of Olivia, an irritating woman who never lets Olivia make up her own mind. Not once is Matthew made to confront the fact that his stupid actions have not only hurt Olivia, he isn't fair to his dead wife as well. Everything instead is blamed on a miscommunication error that puts the blame on Olivia's father, the lousy US Civil War Postal Service, and Olivia's supposedly-inability to shag a virile man when she sees it.
Worse, very little insight is allowed into Matt's head. All I get is the impression that he feels that his wife is dead, time to shack up with the one that got away. Nice. A little remorse will be welcome, but there's not even any emotion from this guy except for the I want you variety.
And I feel so sorry for the long-forgotten, conveniently killed-off wife whom no one spares much a thought for.
Olivia is a fine heroine, but Matt is a zombie. Maybe if there is a stormy confrontation where Liv lets loose all her pent-up anger and he showing some friggin' emotion (that Titanic Torpedo in his pants I count more of a hormonal reaction than emotion), maybe I can appreciate Unforsaken better. As it is, I feel there are many issues still unresolved between these two.
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