Wednesday, June 20, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman

I don't get this, it happens every single month! I swear I get my TBR read done a few days before the challenge, but I always find myself scrambling on the day the review is due! And here I am again... and worse, I actually started my review over the week-end this time! Although I did leave the most important part for last - my opinion ^_^; And of course, today had to be crazy busy. Ugh!! Next time, I should start with that part of the review first LOL. Okay, all complaining aside, the most important is that I did it!! Six months in a row, baby! Yay!

So this month, the theme for the TBR challenge was Western. If you've visited my blog long enough, you'll know I'm not a fan of western romance. However, I do buy a few, mostly because everyone enjoys them so much LOL. That means if I decided to stick with the theme, the choice was going to be easy :) And this month, I went with the easy way... Actually, there was actually only one book that came to mind and it was  Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman which has been sitting in my TBR pile for a couple of years already. Also, I've already read Marry Me, the sequel. So I thought it was time to pick up Never Love a Lawman... and keep reading to find out what I thought of it!

PS - Poll for the Week-End's Minis feature closes tomorrow! Cast your vote if you haven't done so yet!

Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman
published by Kensington in September 2009
Rachel Bailey may seem like just a beautiful newcomer to most of Reidsville, Colorado, but Sheriff Wyatt Cooper knows she's much more. Through a twist of fate, Rachel is the inheritor of a very valuable commodity: control of the railway that keeps the isolated mining town connected to the world. That is, she will be, if she agrees to the surprising stipulation in her benefactor's will-that she marry Wyatt.

Rachel has no choice: refusing the marriage could put all of Reidsville in the hands of an outsider, and not just any outsider but the cruel tyrant she has come here to escape. Yet living with Wyatt will be her greatest challenge. For he has a tempting way about him that makes Rachel forget theirs is a marriage in name only- until her frightening past shows up to remind them exactly how much they have at stake...
Genre: Historical romance, Western
Series: Reidsville series, Book #1

The Story: Rachel's family has worked for Clinton Maddox, a man who has made his fortune in railroads, in one function or another for two generations. She herself has served as a companion and also nurse once Mr. Maddox was afflicted by a stroke. Unfortunately, she had to run away because of Mr. Maddox' grandson unwanted advances and found refuge in Reidsville, Colorado. What Rachel doesn't realize until Mr. Maddox' death is that she's been manipulated to end up in Reidsville as upon his death, she is to inherit 50% shares of the town's mines. However, for the mines to be profitable, they need the railroad spur which Rachel is also going to inherit... but only if she marries the sheriff, Wyatt Cooper.

Rachel is not interested in marriage, but for the interest of the town, she has no choice... So she decides to go with a marriage of convenience that strikes more as a partnership. As for Wyatt, he has been asked to look after Rachel and he intends to do so... especially now that he realizes that there is a real threat coming after her.

My Opinion: For me, Ms Goodman is an author I'm a bit wary about. Simply because I feel she has the habit of blindsiding her readers ^_^; Although I guess my comment is unfair to Ms Goodman and instead, I should put the blame on the person that comes up with the back blurbs. Blurbs are important because they're supposed to give a description of the storyline and I buy a lot of books based on blurbs. So I don't appreciate  it when the blurb is all nice and rosie and wham bam, there is a very dark topic/theme that rears its head up and set up the tone for the rest of the book. It's not that I don't read books with dark themes or issues, it's just that I like to be in the mood for it ^_^: Anyway, I've been caught by surprise a few times with Ms Goodman's books and that's why I don't read more of her. However, with Never Love a Lawman, I did do my homework so it wasn't an issue :)

All in all, Never Love a Lawman was an interesting book. What really worked for me was the hero, Wyatt Cooper! He's the type of character that I really enjoy: observant, really good judge of character, enigmatic and very clever :P He always has an answer ready and a trick up his sleeve that will surprise you. I liked how layered his character was, how much more than meet the eye he was :) The cowboy/sheriff was his game face, the one he was the most comfortable with... but I really liked all the others :P In contrast, I thought Rachel wasn't as interesting. Actually, the word interesting is wrong, the accurate one would be likable. She appeared so prickly and at times, it works to have a prickly heroine... but not when your hero is so amiable ^_^; I just didn't get why she was so distant, didn't feel it was necessary. Mentally, I do understand the need - she was in hiding after all. However, she's going business and was really settling down. In fact, I don't think Forster would have gone after her if it wasn't for her inheritance. Was she going to live the rest of her life that way? Really, Rachel had great qualities: strong, resilient and competent... but she wasn't friendly and I couldn't relate to her and that lowered the "like" factor. And I don't think the romance helped ^_^;

It's not that the romance wasn't good. I'm always for a marriage of convenience and the circumstances that led to this one were interesting :) Also, I liked how the relationship developed, that Rachel and Wyatt had time to  get to  know and trust each other. My issue is I felt the couple lacked passion :( I didn't feel a connection between the two... even after they became lovers. They had sex, but was it more? When did Rachel fall in love with Wyatt? And why?

Finally, the storyline was quite interesting - battles for inheritance usually are... but once again, I had a few issues. First, I thought the business with the mines was a bit confusing. The how and why they kept its success a secret... However, the biggest issue was the pacing. It seemed really slow at times and it's not that nothing happened, but that's the feeling you get. From the beginning of Never Love a Lawman, you know that Rachel is running and hiding from someone. And slowly, we find out why... The thing is, it doesn't take long for Ms Goodman to establish that she will be found. So throughout the book, you're waiting for that big showdown. But there's a lot happening prior to it and these events all seem disjointed ^_^; They are there to develop the characters, for them to get to know each other and it's simply too obvious. Most of them, had not thing to do with the storyline... So that's why it feels like nothing happening :(

One last niggle: the villain. I actually  liked the confrontation Rachel and Wyatt had with the villain... the thing is, I don't like how it ended. For once, I really wished  the villain had been brought down by justice. The way it ended was a bit anti-climatic. As a whole, I would have liked for the confrontation to be longer, to be a bigger part of the story.

As I said, Never Love a Lawman was an interesting book and it kept my attention. I really liked the hero and surprisingly, the setting :) It was so very western, what with the bank, the saloon and the railroad LOL. The town of Reidsville was fun to read about. Unfortunately, these two elements couldn't completely offset the issues... and as I wrote this review, more just kept coming to mind ^_^; And that's why I'm downgrading Never Love a Lawman a notch from my initial grade.

My Grade: C+.