by Diana Palmer
He’ll risk his whole heart to save her from the past
Gaby Cane was always a bit afraid of her attraction to Bowie McCayde. Even when she was fifteen and Bowie’s family took her in, she had sensed his simmering resentment. Now ten years later, she’s an aspiring journalist who can hold her own with any man professionally, the dark shadows of years gone by far behind her. Then Bowie strides back into her life—only this time, he needs her, and the pull of loyalty to his family is too strong to ignore.
When Bowie asked Gaby to help save his family’s Arizona ranch, he never expected the girl he once knew to return transformed into a stunning, successful woman. As they work together, Bowie is shocked to find that her innocence and beauty stir a hunger he can’t deny. But the rogue rancher can sense something holding her back, and he’s determined to uncover the terrible secret Gaby is fighting to keep hidden…
I had mixed feelings about this one.
I didn’t realize until I read the author’s note that it was a reprint of a previously (1989!) published novel. Diana Palmer (pseudonym od Susan Kyle–originally published under her real name) explained that she kept the hero’s smoking habit in the book (and yep, that’s a blast from the past–my kids have a hard time believing me when I tell them that people used to smoke in public all the time, especially restaurants) and noted that the way in which Gaby and the other reporters worked was true to the time period, because that used to be her job. It was definitely interesting to watch reporters work before they had the Internet to help with research! Since it was all taking place in the year in which I graduated high school, I like to think it’s not that long ago, but boy have some things really changed. It was fun to get a glimpse back to a sort-of-distant time.
As a library and information studies student, it was really interesting to observe hands-on research when there was so much actual work (travel to read documents, phone calls, etc.) involved. I also enjoyed seeing all the different hats everyone in the small town paper had to wear on a daily basis. It definitely felt authentic, and really added to the overall atmosphere of the book.
I have to admit I had a difficult time connecting with the main characters. Gaby’s rabid virginity and complete innocence/ignorance about sex (explained by a traumatic event as a young adult) seemed totally at odds with her go-anywhere-heedless-of-danger reporter persona. At times she was worldly and knowledgeable, and then at other times totally clueless. She would waffle back and forth a lot–she trusted Bowie, but no, he scares her; she’s noticed some major red flags about the new group that wants to develop the McCayde land, oh, but they say they’re going to bring lots of jobs to the area, so let’s support them!–definite lack of consistency.
Bowie as a hero felt a bit dated. He was very alpha I-am-man-and-in-charge and not always very nice to Gaby, his mother, or his mother’s new boyfriend. He was big on making “this is how it’s going to be” pronouncements instead of talking things through with the women in his life, and it got to be aggravating. He ended up much more likable than he started, so that was something.
At times I had a hard time believing that Aggie, Bowie’s mother, and Ned Cartwright, her new boyfriend, were mature, grown adults. Not only did they get engaged really, really quickly (without really knowing each other, as becomes clear toward the end) they also broke up for a fairly ridiculous reason. And then we find out what he’s been hiding all along. I kind of wanted to smack him upside the head at that point. They did have a cute HEA, though, so that helped to make up for a lot.
I did like the bits of southwestern history that were sprinkled throughout, and digging into the mystery behind the new agricultural venture (positive forward progress, or environmental disaster in the making?) made for some interesting reading. This was my first book by the author; I’d definitely give some of her more recent titles a try though I don’t know that I’d read too many more of her ones that are 20+ years old. If you read similar books “back in the day” it will probably make you nostalgic, but if you’ve become accustomed to the more modern offerings it might take some adjustment.
Rating: 3 stars / C
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the author:
Susan Eloise Spaeth was born on 11 December 1946 in Cuthbert, Georgia, USA. She was the eldest daughter of Maggie Eloise Cliatt, a nurse and also journalist, and William Olin Spaeth, a college professor. Her mother was part of the women’s liberation movement many years before it became fashionable. Susan grew up reading Zane Grey and fell in love with cowboys. Susan is a former newspaper reporter, with sixteen years experience on both daily and weekly newspapers. Since 1972, she has been married to James Kyle and have since settled down in Cornelia, Georgia, where she started to write romance novels.
She began selling romances in 1979 as Diana Palmer. She also used the pseudonyms Diana Blayne and Katy Currie, and her married name: Susan Kyle. Now, she has over 40 million copies of her books in print, which have been translated and published around the world. She is listed in numerous publications, including Contemporary Authors by Gale Research, Inc., Twentieth Century Romance and Historical Writers by St. James Press, The Writers Directory by St. James Press, the International Who’s Who of Authors and Writers by Meirose Press, Ltd., and Love’s Leading Ladies by Kathryn Falk. Her awards include seven Waldenbooks national sales awards, four B. Dalton national sales awards, two Bookrak national sales awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award for series storytelling from Romantic Times, several Affaire de Coeur awards, and two regional RWA awards.
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