Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TBR Challenge 2010: Sexy Times In New Mexico

The Book: Hell for Leather by Beth Williamson

The Particulars: Historical western erotic romance, part of series, Samhain Publishing, 2009, Available in print and in digital

Why Was It In The Bat Cave TBR?: I won this in a giveaway over at Blanche's blog. Plus, hello? Historical western.

The Review: Kincaid is a bad, bad man, and has made his living by his wits and his guns. Having turned over a new leaf after meeting the Malloy family, he quickly figures out that he'll never have a "normal" life as long as Gunslinger Kincaid is alive. So he fakes his own death (the how and why of that is never explained) buries his guns and fancy clothes, and buys a small spread in New Mexico. He's now Cade Brody. But for a man who wants nothing but to be left alone, he sure is spending an awful lot of time in town.

Sabrina Edmonds is a plain-spoken, no-bull-shit widow who runs the local post office/general store. The minute she lays eyes on Cade she knows she's in trouble. There has been no man in five long years, and this dangerous man with the haunted eyes is enough to make her lose all of her good sense. Along with her clothes. And wouldn't you know it? The feeling is mutual.

The best way to describe this story is thin. Ever read a book and feel like there are whole chapters missing? There's plenty of character baggage here to populate a saga, plus some external conflict involving secondary characters to round out the mix. But at only 223 pages (I read the print version), the author is really only able to scratch the surface. Heck, Cade's past alone would have been more than enough conflict to keep this story churning along. I felt this story either needed to be longer to accommodate all the conflict, or said conflict needed to be stripped down to the bones to really work in this category length story. As is, when Cade and Sabrina do the Big Reveal on their personal baggage it comes off with a ho-hum air. It's dark enough, deep enough, that it should have felt a lot more profound to the reader. Because it's not developed enough, and sharing space with the external conflict, the whole thing comes off as the author telling me about all this terrible "stuff" instead of revealing it through her characters. I never felt their pain.

The romance here also lacks that little something that I like to call development. The lust is great. I get the lust. Cade and Sabrina are practically panting when they first lay eyes on each other. The sex is smokin'. The lust is sizzlin'. However I'm not sure how they get from hubba-hubba-you're-wearing-too-many-clothes to I-love-you-can't-live-without-you-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you.

Sabrina pretty much keeps this story afloat for me. She's what I love about western romance heroines. She's got gumption and fire without being brain dead. She can take care of herself, calls a spade a spade, and doesn't allow anyone to run roughshod over her.
"You know, I think a man is entitled to his secrets, but once he's been between a woman's legs, she's entitled to hear them."
Well, anyone except her sister it seems. Maybe I'm an unfeeling bitch, but romance heroines who forgive their sisters for pretty heinous betrayals tend to get real old, real quick for me. And not only does Sabrina forgive her sister, she also coddles her. Granted it's been five years, but still. Sabrina treats her sister (you know, the sister who betrayed her) like a wounded kitten, and given how plain-spoken and no-nonsense she is with everybody else? Yeah, that was a bit hard to swallow.

So where did all this leave me? Well, pretty much in the C+/C range for the whole book. But then we get to the final chapter when a secondary character, who has acted like a jackass for the whole book, has a miraculous turn-around (on a dime, I might add) all because the heroine tells him off (which was great), but, um....yeah. Suuuuure. So....

Final Grade = C-

In the end though, I can't be too hard on this story. I've been mired in a slump of late and I zipped through this tale in a couple of hours. 98% of the time Wendy is not a read-a-book-in-one-sitting-girl, so on that score this book succeeds. Which means, I'm reading more Beth Williamson in the future, and not just because I have a couple more of her books in my TBR.


Lori said...

What you need to do is go back to the very beginning of the series and start there. The Malloys. Seriously.

Wendy said...

Lori: Heee, I figured you were going to comment on this point. Did you read this one? Could you give me a general comparison of it to the Malloy series? Better, worse, about the same?

I have a couple more by Williamson in my print TBR. The Brava books and her new Emma Lang release....

Wendy said...

Point? I meant post. Geez Wendy.