McAlistair's Fortune
by Alissa Johnson, historical (2009)
Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-8439-6251-2


McAlistair's Fortune lacks the bounce and momentum of the author's previous two books. They say third time is the charm, but this one certainly lacks the charm where I am concerned.

We have Evie Cole, a bluestocking heroine who spends her free time meeting up with abused women and assisting their escape from their abusers on behalf of the "charity organization" that she volunteers in. Still, when she receives a letter containing threats on her life, she isn't worried at all. You see, she overhead shortly before a conversation between her aunt and this aunt's friends, on in which they were discussing various plots to marry her off to the right guy, whoever he is. Evie is convinced that this letter is part of whatever over-the-top plot those old coots came up with.

The friend of a friend of Evie's aunt (don't ask, it's... complicated), James McAlistair, who had stolen a kiss from Evie in the previous book, takes this threat seriously, however. As he ferrets Evie off to a safe place, Evie wonders why McAlistair blows hot and cold where she is concerned while McAlistair behaves as if the mere touch of his would condemn a woman to a life of eternal misery. Let's get the party started, everyone!

This book is very difficult to get into. The first few chapters see the author trotting out a large cast of recurring characters to chew scenery, and I suspect that a reader new to the series will be lost in the crowd. Next, we have scenes of Evie trekking in the wilderness, being out of her element while having to deal with a brusque and distant McAlistair. These two keep blowing hot and cold with each other that their silly games soon become very repetitious. The late third or so of the story sees Evie becoming this amazingly understanding and intuitive heroine determined to heal the hero of all his woes. Given how distant McAlistair has been to her, I can only wonder what she sees in this fellow to warrant doing all that work. It's not like she's trapped in a Harlequin Presents book or something, no?

Some people have problems with McAlistair being a cold-blooded murderer, but I personally don't have an issue with this. Hello, the guy was a former assassin. I'd be more annoyed if he turns out to be a good-hearted type who can't hurt an ant, because he's supposed to be an assassin. So McAlistair being a cold-hearted dangerous SOB is actually a good thing where I am concerned. What is not good, however, is his tedious and constant whining about how he just cannot - cannot - love Evie. This won't be so bad if at the same time he keeps reeling her back in with a kiss or more every time he pushes her away. He's such an annoying tease, in other words. It takes more patience than what I have to give to "understand" this man.

Evie is... okay, on the bright side, she's smart enough to be aware of her emotions as well as her surroundings. Despite some contrived moments of stupidity to further the plot, she's not too much of a stereotypical bluestocking type. But the author often makes Evie come off more like someone auditioning to stand in for Oprah, especially when Evie decides to help McAlistair get over himself. Evie also likes to talk. She talks and talks and talks about everything and anything, I feel exhausted just following her incessant chatter.

While I smile, laugh, and sigh my way through the author's previous two books from first page to last, I find McAlistair's Fortune a slow, circuitous, and often too-cluttered read populated by two main characters that have thoroughly worked on my last nerves by the last leg of the story. Still, I say every author has the right to have an "off" day or two, and I'm not ready to dismiss her yet. I'll be hoping instead that the author has rediscovered the magic in her next book.

Rating: 60


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