My last several reads have been on the disappointing side, so I thought it was time to take drastic action. Yep, I went back to my comfort food of choice, Harlequin Historical westerns. Then I figured, why not Jenna Kernan? She hasn't disappointed me yet, and Turner's Woman happens to be one of Sybil's most favoritest reads ever. Surely, nothing could go wrong...could it?
Jake Turner is traveling west on a super secret mission for President Andrew Jackson when he comes across a massacre in progress. A young woman, traveling with a group of idiot men, have run afoul of some Crow warriors. Seems the idiot men decided it might be fun to ride across a sacred burial ground and take some souvenirs. The men are goners, but Jake is on decent enough terms with this particular band that they let him take the woman. The chit certainly throws a wrench in the works, and he has absolutely no use for women, but his conscience pretty much forces him to save her sorry butt.
Emma Lancing was on her way to meet up with her father, a rendezvous she is not looking forward to since the man is an abusive tyrant. She's completely unsure what to do. Jake seems unwilling to go out of his way to reunite her with her asshole Daddy, and she's not about to travel off by her lonesome. So when Jake offers her a choice, she decides that she's going to travel with him. Why not? For the first time in her life she's in control of her destiny, and having an adventure sounds positively grand.
Emma is a fantastic heroine. Oh, how I loved this girl! She starts out this story shell-shocked. Almost like someone suffering from post-traumatic stress. Indian massacre aside, living under her father's tyrannical rule for her entire life, watching her mother succumb to madness only to be eventually shipped off to a mental ward, has left Emma completely unsure of herself. She has no life. She's essentially a prisoner. What Jake offers her is a chance at freedom. I loved watching this girl blossom into a woman, become more sure of herself, and discover that not only does she have a brain in her head, she knows her own mind. She's calling the shots now, and her Daddy can't say a damn thing about it.
The fly in the ointment is Jake - who is by far not anywhere near good enough for Emma. Man, is this guy a jackass! All woman are evil. Why? Yeah, you guessed it - he grew up back east and and some slutty Miss Thang tried to hog-tie and trick him in to marriage. That's women for you! Our sole purpose in life is to ruin a man's life by throwing the marriage noose around his neck. Then we climb into his bed, practically rape the guy, so we can get ourselves bunches of babies so he's tied to us forever! Insert maniacal laughter here.
This jackass idiot asshole keeps up this nonsense for the whole damn story. He treats Emma like a leper, despite the fact that she continually saves his sorry ass time and again over the course of the story. Seriously. This asswipe should have been killed at least three times by my count - and Emma, dear sweet wonderful Emma, keeps rescuing his sorry butt, for reasons that totally escaped me.
Seriously, how I loathed this "hero." He sped right past Alpha territory and went straight into Why Hasn't He Been Castrated With A Dull Spoon Yet territory.
So where does that leave us? Great heroine. Great, great, great heroine. Seriously. I'd totally go gay for Emma. Also, Kernan continues to be one of the very few authors mining the western landscape pre-Civil War era (basically when everything west of the Mississippi was the middle of nowhere). Her settings are almost like secondary characters to her stories, and this one is no exception.
But Jake! Oh Lord - this guy needed to be shot. Or stabbed. Or strung up by his Mr. Happy. Seriously, I can't decide which. All I know is that Emma was way to good for this assmunch and deserved way better. Unfortunately, this being a romance and him the only hero on the horizon, she's stuck with him. Poor girl.
Final Grade = C+
Seriously, this is my fourth C read in a row. I'm starting to get punchy.