by Elizabeth Turner, historical (2002)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-6839-5
Rebel's Treasure is a Big Misunderstanding story. Now wait, before you all dive for the bomb shelters, I must point out that hero Zachary McClain has some pretty good character development in this story. He starts out a man burning with hatred, but he evens off eventually into a more well-rounded hero.
The heroine, on the other hand - it's always the heroine, isn't it? - is less fortunate. Tess Montgomery has a girlhood crush on Zach like since forever (or since she encounters him as a girl and chitchats with him and other girly stuff), and the crush is never allowed to develop into something more mature or adult.
Southern lass Tess stops Confed soldier Zach years ago from stealing from her, they bonded and chit-chatted. After that Happy Moment, Zach is arrested by the Union soldiers and he blames Tess for that. Tess, on the hand, did do something stupid, but she believed she was doing it to save Zack from a fate worse than death. So anyway, he believes her to be a scum, and she still thinks of him.
Oh boy, roadkill coming up, I think and turn the pages in resignation.
Today, Tess is on her way to claim a ranch and mine. She decides to be an Independent Woman after her Mama Bates mother croaked. Guess who she finds there. She wonders why Zach hates her, and on his part, Zach wonders why he finds her hot even as he hates her. He decides to hurt her with that big monster he keeps in his pants. Listen, Zach and you men harboring the same ideas: that thing in your pants is overrated. True, it's fun to play with, but nowadays we have battery-powered substitutes. It's not the center of the universe anymore, ho ho.
What happens next shouldn't surprise anyone who's familiar with this sort of thing. After Cleansing and Pure Sex with an oblivious Tess, who's of course like no other soiled doves Zach sticks his thingie to, Zach starts having doubts. After all, purity's enough to convince the man of a woman's innocence, yadda yadda yadda.
Most damaging to this story is the inept way the author handles the psychology of the characters. Tess is, on the most part, oblivious and helpless so she's annoying. Zach does give some nice soul-searching angst trips, but all that is triggered by Pure and Cleansing Sex. Like his suspicion of oblivious Tess as some Mata Hari, this aspect doesn't make sense. In short, the whole premise of Rebel's Treasure doesn't hold much water.
Still, this book doesn't irritate me as much as it could. Ms Turner's prose is very readable. It's just too bad that Rebel's Treasure is so easily forgotten soon after.
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