by Jennifer McKenzie, contemporary (2009)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-562-6
It's not every day I read a romance with Bigfoot featured prominently in the plot. I've seen some horribly sentimental family movies with Bigfoot, but I don't recall reading a love story with that hairy goon in it. No, Bigfoot is not the hero in this story so don't get excited.
Our heroine in Legend Hunter, Kiera McConnel had seen Bigfoot once when she was a little girl, but this is not something she likes to talk about, as her father is known to the folks around Little Trinity as the, er, weird Bigfoot hunter who will do anything to prove the existence of Bigfoot. Only she knows best what a SOB her father can be. However, our hero Ben Harmon knows that he needs her help to track down the hairy beast, and he has the means to force her to help. Her late father's will stipulated that Kiera has to launch a Bigfoot "research" party or the money will go to some research groups. Conveniently enough for us or else there will be no story, Kiera needs the dough to pay for her mother's cancer treatments and surgeries, so she can't exactly say no to Ben. Alas, not only does Bigfoot may not want to be found, these two also have to deal with a potential threat from an unexpected source in their field trip.
This is a readable story with a convoluted but still intriguing romantic suspense plot, but I find it a joyless one as well. The problem here is that, no matter how the author tries to prettify Ben's behavior here, he holds all the power in this relationship. Kiera never had a chance to walk away because the plot makes sure that she can never say no. The balance of power is tilted toward Ben, as a result. Kiera spends so much time being miserable and acting like a prisoner trapped by circumstances that her falling in love with Ben has me scratching my head in puzzlement. Since when does she have time to fall in love anyway, since she's busy moaning and being miserable in this story? Ben isn't a particularly attractive hero either. He holds the power in this relationship, and the little things he does - like judging Kiera's situation and often behaving like he knows best for her - only make him come off even more like a ruthless opportunist. He may fall in love with Kiera, but he also demonstrates that he isn't above forcing her to do things she doesn't want to do for his own advantages.
In other words, despite the happy ending, Ben never manages to shake off the initial impression that he is a calculated opportunist who won't hesitate to bruise Kiera's heart for his own purposes just as Kiera never succeeds in convincing me that she is ever in a state of mind that will allow her to fall in love with Ben. Maybe if the author has invested in a few dozen more pages to show these characters in a few more believable romantic scenes, I may just believe in the romance. As it is, this one is more of a well-written tale of a miserable woman who happens to fall in love with the man who forced her to do things she really didn't want to do. I can't help feeling sorry for poor Kiera at the end of the day.
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