The basics: Garnet Lane was married very young, had a wedding night (or two) and then sent her new husband off to fight in the Union Army. He’s reported as wounded, missing and presumed dead, but she’ll never believe it. Garnet is sickly and the doc recommends the dry heat of Texas, so she and her Aunt Jennifer head south via rickety paddlewheel. Well you know there’s going to be an ever-so-handsome southern gambler aboard who lusts after the frail yet beauteous Garnet at first sight right? Garnet won’t truck with southerners or gamblers so Brant Steele dallies with heart of gold stripper dancer Lacey Lee.

Sooooo, the boiler on the rickety boat explodes and hardly anyone survives but Garnet, Brant, auntie, the slut Lacey and they conveniently land close to Brant’s now dilapidated and up for auction plantation. Brief interlude there and everyone then heads for Texas (Brant and Lacey decide to try their luck in Texas and in the same town too!). Garnet and auntie help their uncle in his store, Brant gets the gig as head cowboy at the biggest ranch in town and Lacey gets a job stripping dancing at the local saloon. Brant still lusts after Garnet who won’t give him the time of day so he still dallies with Lacey. Garnet’s health doesn’t improve and the docs say there’s nothing wrong, she just needs a man in her bed (I am not kidding).

There’s a bit more, including a silly plot twist involving Lacey, the creepy saloon owner and a half-breed by the name of Julio-Bear (no, I am not kidding) and sneaking her and her pet monkey Lollipop (no, I am not kidding) out-of-town hidden in a coffin before the baddies can catch her but you’ll want to miss that – frankly I can’t find anything in this book to recommend it to anyone- and that’s coming from someone who has read and enjoyed several other books by this author. Did she phone this one in? Nothing is believable in the story or the characters, the writing was poor and almost juvenile.  As for the prose? I’ll let you be the judge,

“Oh, Brant, why don’t you burst into the tent like a desert sheik, sweep her up in your arms and spirit her away!”

Want more? How’s about the big love scene?

“Yes! That’s good! Oh, yes!”

What’s good?” he said, quietly but firmly.

“Playing with my- my bosom”

“Breasts, They’re lovely, with sweet nipples-and you like them tasted.”

“Yes,” she whispered.

Oh dear.  I’d probably have more examples but I was skimming a lot by then. Along with all of this the author committed the most cardinal sin of all in a romance – how in the hell are we supposed to care about such a whiny, selfish, stuck-up, snot nosed, uppity bitch like Garnet? And why would Brant fall in love with her? Yes, she’s young at first and one would hope that with a little experience in life might mature her and get her past it but nooooooo, this is what we ended up was Nellie Olson for a heroine.

Give this one a pass, wish I had.  Since the condition I received it in from PBS is non-postable the only place this one is going is right to the recycle bin. No stars.

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