Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Beth Williamson - Nate

Nate Marchand grew up as the only son of the town drunk. As a Confederate soldier, he found that order in the chaos was the only thing that kept him sane. Numbers, information, keeping everything in its proper place became second nature. The chaos of the war and its aftermath sent him into a rigid state that he couldn't seem to overcome.
He and his friends, nicknamed Devils on Horseback, leave behind the aftermath of war to start fresh in the west. Their new business venture flounders and desperation drives them to take whatever work they can. The Devils are hired to remove the Taggert family from land claimed by Samuel O'Shea, the largest landowner in Grayton, Texas.
When he meets Elisa Taggert, his entire world shifts beneath him. Attracted, bewildered, and off-kilter, Nate ignores his conscience in favor of his wallet. The simple task of removing a woman, a boy, and an old man, along with a small herd of cattle, resembles a Medieval siege.
Nate wrestles with what he knows is right with what he must do. Will his love for Elisa overcome his need for survival?

Comment: This is a book I've had my eye on for a long time. The author isn't unknown to me, I've read her Mallory family series and I liked all books. Some better than others but that's to expect in a long series. At the time, there were only seven books but I just noticed that there are more installments. However, I don't plan on reading those. I like to keep my memories of reading the series as it was.
This book, Nate, is the first in another series, The Devils on Horseback, an I've wanted to read it for a long time. This month I finally scheduled this one.

As I said, this book is the first in a series of five, about a group of men who fought in the war and now are traveling trying to find work or means to support themselves. They're called the Devils on Horseback because they were dangerous and powerful together. Some of them are brothers and cousins.
Nate has been a friend of the guys for a long time, their families had a connection and Nate is one of the guys although his education is a bit more refined.

The story starts with the guys arriving at the city of Grayton and trying to find work saying they're a company ready to provide any service, D.H. Enterprises. They get the attention of a powerful man who wants to remove a family from a piece of land he claims belongs to him. The guys try to do that but they find out the family is a group of three, an old man, a young woman and a adolescent boy.
Elisa, the woman, is feisty and ready to defend her family at any cost and she keeps trying to make Nate and the guys go away. There's attraction between her and Nate though and their relationship will be starting point to some unexpected revelations.

This book has several issues that don't allow it to be good in my perspective. I was quite amazed - negatively - by how different this was from those wonderful books by her I've read in the past!
I'm not sure what's the intent here but this story in particular didn't work out very well.
I'll write down a list of things I disliked in the book. Maybe some issues can be spoilerish for you but I'll try to contain it:

- as expected, the hero and heroine hit if off right away. They meet, they barely speak but their relationship - which never felt complete or meaningful by the way because they never actually talked about themselves - progresses fast from attraction to sex and later on to commitment. This is to be expected and yes, there's a HEA at the end but knowing it will happen and seeing how it happens doesn't mean it's as special and meaningful as one might hope for. This disappointed me a lot because I never got to believe in their relationship.

- the writing itself felt really distant from the other books. It felt more put of place, sentences seemed automatic, it was almost as if the writing didn't flow. The situations based on plot needs were awkward, never done in the right times, for instance, the intimate moments between Nate and Elisa were completely out of character from their personalities (young innocent girl, self assured gentleman behavior) and the things they were doing. Very inappropriate for the dangerous or unlikely situations they were in at those times.
The pace also didn't help much because it looked like everything was happening fast without any world building good enough to support what was being described.

- Elisa is the heroine but she never acted like a young girl from an historical setting and era, no matter how different her upbringing and surroundings were. She practically attacked Nate and her behavior seemed very away from what should be like. Of course I wouldn't mind if she were demanding and strong and decided to try to save her ranch and land, but to not care about propriety and society rules seemed over the top and nothing like an historical should be. Again, so different from other heroines by the same author who weren't unbelievable like this even if feisty and strong willed.

- There are things to uncover about Elisa's family and some secrets weren't as obvious as that so I liked that there was some surprise. But the way things were done annoyed me. Really, the writing of this book was really poor, I can't understand it. The end was a bit weird as I wasn't sure what was really happening but to be honest by that point I just wanted it to be over.

All in all, this story was a great disappointment. There were some small hints of the author I liked before but for the most part, the elements in the book, especially main couple and plot situations really made this be bad.
I have the two following ones to read. I'm reading the next one this month, hopefully it's better and this was just a bump in the road. Hopefully.
Grade: 3/10

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