07 May 2009 @ 02:19 am
I think I'm going to start posting my book reviews in my journal, because it's not like I don't spend a lot of time writing them. Also: guaranteed content!

That is, of course, unless anyone has any objection. Speak now or forever hold your peace, people! There is no turning back once I make up my mind to do something.

The doubletree The doubletree by Victoria Pade


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
Re-read. I am a sucker for Western romance, like whoa and goddamn. Nineteenth century, not modern day. Modern-day Western romance confuses me a little, because the cowboys are always driving around in Cadillacs and European sports cars, because their families got rich in the oil rush and they just keep ranching as a sort of hobby. Cowboys ride horses and drive pick-up trucks, the junkier the better. Please see Sutherland, Kiefer, The Cowboy Way, not Dynasty.

Anyway, the most amazing thing about this book is that the heroine is 22, not 17 and three-quarters. True, the hero is 11 years older than her, but he’s been widowed once after a marriage of six or seven years, so it’s not like he’s been lone-wolfing it for the entirety of his great bachelorhood. In fact, he has an 18-month-old son. Which is why he’s in Chicago in the first place, putting an advertisement in the paper for a bride. Ohmigod, excitement! Mail-order bride! Baby romance? OK, baby romance. I can deal.

I did enjoy it. Compared to the pinching of the nipple through the cookie sheet (Silk and Steel), this was a very pleasant read. Practically Victor Hugo. Seriously, though, the writing was very readable. There wasn’t too much purple stuff, and the main characters weren't atrocious and stupid and brainless. Their conflict was an understandable one. They weren’t all fussed at each other because she was seen talking to his brother, the notorious man-whore. (In fact, there is not a single man-whore in the entire book.) Instead, they had troubles for reasons that made sense for the historical period and for their characters, and resolved them in a pretty mellow manner for a romance novel. Great work, dear author!

My favorite character was probably the hero’s brother’s wife, Cally. There’s this great scene where she basically tells the heroine that something the hero told her is a bunch of bullshit. If she cursed more, Cally would totally be LSG. Here, just let me quote it, with a little background.

The hero (that’d be Jared) tells the heroine (that’d be Glenna) that marriage is like a doubletree. A doubletree is something that harnesses two horses together, so that they can pull a load more evenly. A marriage is a doubletree, and a husband and wife have to share the load. Jared is quite serious about this, and Glenna is just a tad bit intimidated by it. So, she tells Cally about it, and Cally reacts.

Cally laughed suddenly. “The doubletree? Oh, these Stratton men. I’ll just be that’s what Jared told you he expected in wife, didn’t he? I know because that’s what Joseph told me all those years ago when he asked me to marry him. I said if he ever referred to me as a horse again I’d skin him alive.”


Keep on keeping on, Cally. These Stratton men don’t need a doubletree. They need a wife who will take the billow out of their sails when they get too puffed up. Start that rooster strut, and Cally will pluck your tail feathers out.

There were a couple things that bothered me:

1) The hero has a mustache, and the author spends a lot of time having the heroine admire it. How full and lush and shiny and wheat-colored it is. The first couple times it was just, “OK, so he has a cookie-duster,” but by the time she got around to be dumbstruck by his mustache being “flattened” by the water as he reared, whale-like, out of a pond as they were taking a bath, it was just kind of tired. (Note: “Whale-like” is my phrasing. There is a possibility he could have moved more like Flipper or Nessie.)

2) There’s this scene where everything goes wrong all at once. To wit: The hero’s infant son is sick with a fever and goes into convulsions, his brother’s wife goes into labor without the baby being positioned properly, and (the topper) the barn collapses in a blizzard, killing a shitload of horses and the oldest hired hand and breaking the brother’s oldest son’s legs and arm. He needed stitches as well, just so you know. EVERYBODY WAS IN GREAT PERIL. THE SITUATION WAS QUITE PERILOUS. IT PROVED THE HERO RIGHT THAT LIFE ON THE PRAIRIE INVOLVED MUCH PERIL. But the heroine came through. She saved the day – made pancakes while balancing a baby on her hip and everything, after helping birth a baby girl without killing the mother. What I’m saying is that it was a little over the top. It kind of felt like the author was told she needed to add a few thousand words and put more PERIL in the book.

Other than those two things, great book. If you like Western romance, I totes recommend it. It’s an older Harlequin Historical – published in 1990 – but you ought to be able to find it online. I just Googled, and it’s available on Amazon and Alibris and eBay.

Lastly, the cover on the old edition (1990) was better than the one shown here. It is a little dated now, but the guy on this cover isn't the way I saw the hero in my head.


View all my reviews.

Um, this is also acknowledgment of the fact that I judge genre books by different standards than non-genre books. There is general fiction and then there is genre fiction, and genre fiction has an entire culture of expectations and conventions that non-genre fiction doesn't. So, my ratings for romance novels are based on romance conventions and expectations, not general fiction. If I ever read any romance that I think a general reader will like, I will advise. Otherwise, romance non-readers, don't take my high ratings on romances as a recommendation, because you will probably end up confused and/or with a broken brain.
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