by Janette Kenny, historical (2008)
Zebra, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-8217-8147-0
One Real Man is not the most groundbreaking Western historical romance around, but it's a pretty decent read nonetheless.
Gil Yancy has bought himself a third of the Rocky Point Ranch, only to learn when he arrives at the ranch that his old friend has been dead for some time now and this late friend's widow is a woman from his past: Josephine Andrews. Josie doesn't even try to pretend that she doesn't recognize Gil - she panics from the moment those two meet, thus giving the whole game away. Romance heroines, sigh. Anyway, Gil will learn that Josie, a former fallen woman (don't worry, she's not that fallen in the first place), is now trying to lead a respectable life with her daughter Sarah Ann. She is worried that the past will catch up with her. Well, little does the poor dear know that Gil is not the worst from her past to show up in her life. Wait until the big bad pimp from her past shows up at the doorstep...
Gil is a pretty standard Western hero, although he's not an ex-outlaw for once. There is nothing too memorable about him since he's a familiar reliable hero on a white steed character. Still, he has a pretty good rapport with Sarah Ann here, which allows him to demonstrate that he can be a good father to a young lady if he puts his mind to it. I find it odd, come to think of it, that his relationship with the heroine's daughter is much more interesting than his relationship with the heroine. Gil has a standard hero-to-the-rescue relationship with Josie - nothing too interesting there - while his relationship with Sarah Ann has some endearing and memorable moments absent in his relationship with Sarah Ann's mother.
Josie starts out as this annoying overemotional creature trying very hard to hog secrets to herself. However, Josie soon snaps out of her nonsense and starts taking up measures to protect herself and Sarah Ann. She becomes a more tolerable character as a result.
One Real Man is, however, a very readable story. The pacing is fine, and there is a pretty good build up to the climatic confrontation with the bad guy. While this story has a few twists that come out straight from a soap opera, the story itself is an entertaining one. If anything, the author can tell a story here.
Therefore, while I can't say that I find the characters or their story particularly memorable, I can say that this is a pretty enjoyable read while it lasts.
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