Dylan Harper wanted his $1,200, not a wife. But afraid if he didn’t accept Logan’s offer, someone else would, Dylan couldn’t bear the idea of this woman with a bruised face suffering an even worse fate. To him, this marriage, conducted in a barroom with a dying Louisiana lawyer officiating, was nothing more than a business arrangement. Melissa would cook and clean for him, but not share his bed. But he didn’t dream this gentle female would grip his heart so fiercely. Yet, with all the hurt between them, would either be willing to take the first steps to trust again, to touch, to fall in love...
Comment: It's time for this month's TBR book, this time the theme was Historical and I chose a book by Alexis Harrington not only because she writes historicals but also because I had more than one book by her in my TBR list. It would be a nice way to get one down of the pile...
Following the western tradition of romances, the author presents us Melissa Logan, a recent mother whose husband doesn't treat her right and as soon as the story begins, gives her away to pay off a debt at Dylan Harper's store. Recognizing she would be beaten again by the lazy man, Dylan accepts the offer but regrets it when he realizes he has no idea what to do with her or her baby.
Melissa doesn't have anywhere to go nor the money to do it even if she wanted, so she accepts Dylan's help and starts her own laundry business on the side to help with the expenses and hoping to pay off her husband's debt. With time, however, Dylan stops being another possible enemy to be the gentleman and the person she easily accepts as someone who helps her. Could her feelings become reciprocated as well?
This is one of those traditional romances that we don't see being written anymore nowadays. At least, not with the feel or the vibe the older books used to have. Everything changes, including the way writers think about their stories and how to portray their characters. This book has two protagonists that wouldn't be presented exactly like this in a recent book, there's something about it that tells us it was published years ago (almost 20 as a matter of fact). It doesn't mean it's bad, just has a different aura or something that makes it a different kind of historical from historicals published today.
The story is quite sweet, it has all the elements to be so, the lady in need of help and the reluctant hero who can't help but be there. Of course this is a trope seen countless times and it takes effort and talent to make it smooth. I liked this story, I liked Melissa and Dylan and I especially liked the beginning of their relationship and how it progressed. But closer to the end, avoidable tactics in the plot just brought down the grade for me. I really think it would have been unnecessary to add the drama we see before the HEA happens, it's obvious why it's there, it's not helping anything and something slightly different would have been much better, like a conversation or an attempt to change but realizing it wouldn't have to be so, I don't know.
The romance progressed interestingly, it took time for both to realize they wanted things to change between them, it was great to see Melissa grow up emotionally so she could recognize the feelings in her and Dylan didn't jump into situations he couldn't deal with, their paths crossed but weren't fully aligned all the time, it was very nice to see them slowly accept another chance at love, at caring for someone else, at wanting to be with the other... it's great to have stories where the main couple thinks and decides before just acting and regretting or being pointlessly whiny about it.
What annoyed me the most was how, after having more than accepting they were in love, they still clung to that idea they had to be apart and so on... I mean, this is not totally unacceptable, because people often do silly things but it would have been much better that, if instead of going ahead with it, they had come to their senses and dealt with it wisely. Dylan's need to confront his past is quite expected and a loose point I obviously liked seeing done with but it didn't have o be like that. Then we have the rushed end and not a sweet epilogue to confirm us their choices. Oh well, not everything is always the way we would like.
All things considered, this was a positive story, I liked reading it, yes, some moments weren't as interesting as others but many details made up for it. I liked Dylan's relationship with baby Jenny, his friendship with Rafe, I liked Melissa's happiness when she was feeling worthy and useful...
There are many scenes that makes us want to be with the characters and feel glad they are happy.
However, I'd definitely change some things and that says it all about how perfect, or not, a book is to us.