A Place Called Home
by Judie Aitken, contemporary (2001)
Jove (A Seduction Romance), $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13180-6

Wowee, looking at the cover, I must say the God of Art Department must be a straight woman. Or a gay man. Phew. Now all we need is more glimpse of those cute dimples, both pairs of them. Ahem.

Anyway, the story, which is of course not as good as the cover, but still a pretty good story nonetheless. Not that A Place Called Home can be called breathtaking or innovative, but it is well-told and the relationship between the two main leads are done well enough to pass my A-OK grade.

It's set in a horse ranch, and yes, it has a financially beleaguered rancher named Cody Butler who just wouldn't sell his land because it is in his blood, et cetera. What, not even to give your sister a decent education? Hmm, I think I have been reading Regency historicals too much. Anyway, Cody, carry on please.

The person who wants to buy the ranch is Glenn Hubbard. He wants to set up an animal preservation thing on the land he buys, but apparently this is not good enough to studly beef-chewing men like Cody. So pui to the deal. Glenn sends his daughter Shaye to negotiate, and she just has to barge in while Cody is in an "Oopsie, dishabille" state. Hormones bloom, nostrils flare, and the horses stand in a circle and neigh, "The hills are aliiiveee..."

There's also a very scary 13-year old sister of Cody, Meribeth, who sounds like a 33-year old sometimes, leading a whole town of busybody people who, apparently, have nothing better to do than to (a) worry and talk about cattle and (b) matchmake Cody and Shaye. Maybe we need to build a cinema for these folks.

Cody is a decent hero, with the usual Marlboro-Manisms about friendship, loyalty, blah blah blah. I still don't understand why he expects everybody to stand by him when news spread that his cattle may be infected with some disease that can spread to others. Then again, I live in a nice horse-free and beef-free environment, so what do I know, huh?

Shaye is the usual daddy-love-starved heroine who, for some reason, forget to tell Cody that she is the Animal Reserve Man's daughter even after he has taken her horse-riding and showing her the joys of beef (er...), and this leads to a rather annoying Big Misunderstanding thing towards the end.

Still, for two cardboard stereotypes in love, this is not a bad story. The relationship is slow but it goes somewhere, at least, urged on by pathological matchmakers and precocious young teens. There are some fine moments, and at the end of the day, while Shaye doesn't develop much from the usual stock frustrating robot heroine, Cody is a pretty cute Marlboro Man. My keep flicking back to look at the cover doesn't hurt too.

A Place To Call Home is a decent Call For The Wild romance thing where beef, cattle, and yee-haw rule. It's well-written, however, that it is easy to follow the story and even care for the cardboard characters a little. All in all, this is a decent romance that while doesn't reach boiling point, simmers along just fine.

Rating: 76

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