Friday, December 18, 2020

Alexis Harrington - Desperate Hearts

The life Kyla was leading wasn't the one she had imagined for herself. Banished from her Oregon ranch and disguised as a boy, she was riding through Idaho beside a handsome bounty hunter, hoping to convince him to kill the gunslinger who stole her land and her innocence. Once she had dreamed of marrying a man who would honor her independence and cherish her enough to heal her wounds. Now she just dreamed of revenge...
Jace Rankin cursed himself for feeling sorry for the ragged boy outside the Silver City saloon. But he swore even louder when he discovered the "boy" was in fact a beauty in a mess of trouble. A man hardened by gun battles and old hurts, Jace wasn't ready to trust the red-haired waif fate had sent him. Yet Kyla awoke a yearning in him that he couldn't ignore. Now he wanted to prove to her that a man's touch could be gentle and a man's love so great that he'd fight for her simply because she asked... even if it broke his heart..

Comment: I've finished this book last night but I must say I wasn't as impressed (or well entertained) as I was with the first book featuring familiar characters, Homeward Hearts. This first book was romantic and the protagonists became a balanced couple, but in this one I didn't have the same feeling.

This story begins some time after the events which occurred in the first book. Now the focus is on bounty hunter Jace Rankin, still bent on getting revenge on his sister's murder and he has finally caught the culprit. Showing no mercy doesn't erase his feelings of loneliness but he still feels reluctant to accept the business deal a young man asks of him, after Jace helped him in a saloon brawl. The young man wants to get his family ranch back but a criminal group has taken control of the city and the businesses there so he needs the help of someone fearless like Jace. Since he has nothing else to do and it's on route of his plans, Jace agrees at last. What he didn't count on was that the young man is actually a young woman...

This wasn't such an exciting or romantic read as I hoped for,after having liked the other book. I suppose I can say this author's books are a bit hit-and-miss for me, some I liked quite well, others are more boring. This one I felt wasn't as good because the main relationship didn't seem to evolve as smoothly, at the pace where I'd feel convinced they were, indeed, falling in love.

Kyla, the heroine, is traveling disguised so she can find help to get her ranch back. She knows she wouldn't be able to do anything on her own, the city she's from is too afraid to help so she started to dress and behave as a man to not attract as much attention. I liked Kyla as a character, she went through some awful situations, she's at a place where her emotions just can't be trusted but she still carries on, trying to find a way to normalcy again. I cheered for her resolutions and the way she thought outside the box for a woman in a time without many options.

Jace is carrying a heavy burden, a mix of sorrow and guilt and when he finally accomplishes what he has envisioned for so long, he finds himself bereft, since he let go of a lot to pursue revenge. Now he gets a new goal, something to do even f he acts as if it's such a bother. I liked his personality, I liked why he acted so gruff and why he felt like doing what he does.

These two have everything to work out and the fact they have a common goal helps in uniting them and in making want to be together. The story then embarks on a sort of "road trip adventure" where they warily start trusting each other, where they very painstakingly start sharing things about themselves and where, readers could hope and anticipate considering similar novels, they would fall in love. At least this is what I imagined but I have to say the story was a bit boring, they didn't really acted as compatible, as having chemistry and the whole thing was a little forced.

The heroine also had some emotional issues to deal with so when they become intimate, it was meant to be sweet and romantic but I've read other books where "the right man" makes a difference and this time I wasn't as captivated by their mutual emotional journey and was easily distract by other things while reading. It's true some interactions between them felt realistic, both for the kind of issues they had and fr the time in which the action takes place, but I also wanted more romance, more obvious moments where they "clicked" somehow.

There are two big villains here, one more passive but with more power and the other a sort of henchman who found amusement in being mean. I confess I skipped the villain's POV scenes because they don't really add anything to the plot except shock. We already know there will be a confront at some point, we know how bad they are...This is one of those cases I wouldn't have minded just telling instead of showing.

I think this wasn't such a bad book but it wasn't special to me. The overall tone was one I tend to like in westerns, but that tension which often is seen between the main couple before they become intimate wasn't as well done as in previous books I've read by this author. Plus, the end went as one would expect but the romance ending was very rushed. I should say it was very nice to see the couple from the first book being in a scene in this one too.

Grade: 6/10

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