Jackson's Way
by Leslie LaFoy, historical (2001)
Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58313-1


I'm sorry (and so's my blood pressure) but Jackson's Way brings out the raging PMS She-Ra in me. It is singularly everything I loathe in a Western/American romance: the overglamorization of redneck cowboy behavior, the overglorification of male jerk behavior, and the sugarcoating of female victimization as "romance, cowboy-style". Lasso this bazooka and eat metal, you Jackson Stennett creep.

Set right after the panic of 1837 in America, Lindsay McPhaull is working hard to keep her father's company afloat in the midst of financial turmoils. Her father pretty much absconded to some merry life, hey ho, leaving her the mess of catering to her obnoxiously selfish and villainous siblings. Needless to say, everyone plus the lawyer is victimizing poor Lindsay, who takes it all in like a martyr.

Then comes Jackson, from Texas, with a will that says everything the McPhaulls have are deeded to him by the McPhaull absent partriach.

Now, I don't know about you, but here's my take on this story.

1. If a man walks in to say that my absent father has treated him like a son to the point of deeding the bastard everything I work my ass off to keep together, there is no amount of alcohol or recreational drugs in this world that can make me sleep with him,

2. A father who walks out on his family, leaves a pile of mess for everybody to clear, and deeds everything callously to a stranger as opposed to his family is not a good, much less honorable man. Jackson insists that moron Bill, the stupid father, is one, the yardstick of every decent gentlemanly behavior. I feel ill already,

3. If my dear friend suffers a severe stroke the moment after Jackson comes with the bad news, you can bet I won't be attracted to the man who tells me, minutes after the stroke guy is stashed away from earshot, that he will throw me out on the streets and sneers when I am shocked, "Cat got your tongue?"

Don't get me started about Jackson acting self-righteous and priggish about the MacPhaulls. I really doubt a man who comes right in to steal away everything has much of a leg to stand on when it comes to being self-righteous.

These are really pertinent issues the author has to solve by the last page. Instead, she concentrates everything on an embezzlement plot and forces Lindsay to mash face with Jackson. It's like forcing a chicken to kiss a frog - no chemistry, no plausible character motivation, and in my case, I can't even see it as lust because I sure can't understand why a woman would want to sleep with a man who condemns her, steals her life, mocks her, baits her, and then have the nerve to act like an offended messiah when she calls her father a jackass.

But who cares? As long as they get married, never mind that they are still baiting and bickering to almost the last page, and have some babies, I guess I'm supposed to be happy. I am. Ecstatically happy that this offensive, insulting male-pandering ordeal is over.

Rating: 36


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