I polished off two more Harlequin Historical titles this weekend.
The Horseman by Jillian Hart (Harlequin Historical #715) - One of the common criticisms of the romance genre (among idiots who like to talk out of their asses) is that it gives women "unrealistic expectations." I've always found this "reasoning" particularly insulting (and anti-feminist) because it implies women are such simpletons that we can't tell the difference between Fiction and The Real World. That said, reading The Horseman gave me an unrealistic expectation because the hero is incredibly perfect. I swear, I love The Boyfriend - but if I thought for one moment that Dillon Hennessey existed in real life I'd be out the door in a snap.
Heroine miscarries and her baby girl dies. Asshole husband (who likes to beat her in his spare time) tosses her out the door and dissolves their marriage because the miscarriage has left her barren. Heroine crawls home (literally) because she has nowhere else to go and she's incredibly weak from all that nasty blood loss and trauma.
Her mother is a petty, unfeeling bitch and her banker stepfather is only concerned with the fact that he's losing business because his stepdaughter ruined the family reputation.
Seriously, I wanted a gun.
Hero is a horse trainer a la The Horse Whisperer and essentially falls in love with the heroine the first time he lays eyes on her. But she's from a Very Good Family (ha!) and he's blue collar. Also, he's incredibly shy, gets tongue-tied around women, and just has no clue how to go about the whole courting business.
Circumstances come into play where the heroine runs away (still being very ill), hero rescues her, and nurses her back to health. He does his best - earning her trust and vowing to her that he would not only make a good husband, but would love her with such an undying devotion that she would never want for anything.
Hart has a tendency to do a lot of internal monologue-ing, and the story is slow in spots. That said, this hero is so dreamy that he really carries the whole blessed book. I have this thing for shy men who are "unsure" of themselves. I'm just a sucker like that. Still waffling on the grade for this one - so I'll say a B+.
High Country Hero by Lynna Banning (Harlequin Historical #706) - Another average read from Banning. Heroine has just returned to Oregon with her medical degree in hand and has opened for business. Hero is a loner bounty hunter who needs her to tend to someone with a gun shot wound. Naturally this wounded patient is several days away via horseback. Along the way hero teaches heroine to not be so afraid and enjoy the "little things" in life. Love and romance bloom on the trail.
This one was OK. My main complaint is that there is a big issue in the hero's past that was never fully fleshed out. Part of me understood why he made the choice he made - but I guess I wanted Banning to spell it out more for me. Final Grade = B-.