Wednesday, February 17, 2021

#TBRChallenge 2021: The Drifter's Proposal

The Book: The Drifter's Proposal by Kristin Holt

The Particulars: Historical western romance novella, #4 in Holiday in Mountain Home series, Self-published, 2015, Kindle Unlimited (at time of this posting)

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: I picked this up at the only Romantic Times Convention I ever attended (2016). I went to a western-themed gathering and recognized exactly two authors in the room - so being the western fan that I am, I went around and snapped up some freebies to try from the unknowns.  Holt was one of those.

The Review: I'm in the midst of "obligation reading" at the moment, so for new-to-you-author month I decided to scrounge up a novella. Novellas are tricky to write and I like trying new authors in this format because it's sink or swim as far as how well their "voice" is going to work for me.  Also, if the story ends up being a dud I'm not slogging through 300+ pages.  

Adaline Whipple's father succumbed to a massive heart attack three months ago, leaving Adaline in charge of the family bakery in small town Mountain Home, Colorado.  Her 10-year-old twin sisters are a help, but her mother has basically been catatonically depressed since her husband passed - so it's up to Adaline. She's become distracted by frequent customer, Malloy (just Malloy), who is a cowboy who drifts in and out of town. He's handsome to distraction but plain, plump Adaline - firmly "on the shelf" at 25 - knows that a man like that would never give her a first glance, let alone a second.  

Then one day a slick big city banker from Denver shows up presenting a signed copy of a mortgage her father signed before he died. Neither Adaline nor her mother knew a blessed thing about any mortgage and now it's past due, the bank demanding payment in full - an astronomical amount of $700.  The bakery is doing OK, but they don't have $700 just lying around!

Malloy overhears this exchange and something smells rotten in Denmark. Malloy is no mere drifter cowboy.  Our guy has accounting skills and has traveled around the country helping law enforcement nail down fraud convictions.  Give this guy another 30 years on the planet and he would have caught Al Capone.  Anyway, he's obviously smitten with Adaline (like, duh) and has a white knight complex - so we're off the races.

This story firmly falls into Rescue Fantasy category, but Holt makes it work for me by keeping this short and giving Adaline (and her mother!) some gumption as things develop.  The mystery of the mortgage the family is clueless about keeps the plot humming along, and held my interest to the end.  It does get a bit melodramatic towards the end and our villain is fairly one-dimension, but honestly after living through 2020 it's amazing how much I'm no longer finding a certain brand of mustache-twirling villain as "over the top."

The romance here is firmly in "just kisses" territory and the courtship follows a very fast timeline, but largely worked for me given that the main couple has been circling each other for months.  Some series baggage naturally creeps in, but it's nothing that confuses the reader and doesn't interfere with this particular romance. 

For readers looking for "just kisses" and who enjoy small town romances, this particular novella is very solid and a good introduction to the author.  I liked it and would definitely try another book by Holt in the future.

Final Grade = B


azteclady said...

Seriously, those of us who survived 2020 are likely to revise what's realistic for villains *drastically*, just as we had to for politicians after the 2016 campaign and election.

Whiskeyinthejar said...

I'm always in awe of how you can remember time and place that you picked up your books. If I can't see the date I put in on GRs, the narrow down becomes within 5yrs.

Novellas are so tough for me, the couple almost always has to have some kind of previous relationship in order for me to buy into the quickness of their romance. Not sure I've heard of a mortgage crisis western before though, so good on that.

Jill said...

Yay! TBR day!

I read THIS IS TRUE LOVE by Jamie Wesley. The heroine, Felicity Chambers, is a Hollywood star who has just been through a very public and humiliating divorce. To give herself a new start, she negotiated with her husband to get his half of a production company. The other half belongs to Alex Graham, her ex's best friend and someone she has a very past with, involving a never-to-be-spoken-of makeout session on the couch. So of course that's going to be interesting.

This was the definition of a "meh" read to me. The good thing is the Felicity and Alex are very endearing and have several great moments together, some bantery and light, others more serious. I especially liked Felicity who had been beaten down, but was definitely not out. Unfortunately, I felt the story zig zagged through the plot and emotional beats in a way that seemed disjointed. I also felt like a lot of the prose was overwritten.

I admit this is my personal pet peeve, but any time a story starts with a very detailed description of how very, very hot the two main characters are, I'm already yawning and concerned the writer doesn't have enough confidence in 1)their reader 2) their own writing. I did manage to get over that initial hump, but it would come up again with overblown descriptions that I had to push through.

I think I may just have to put it down as not my cup of tea. Onward!

eurohackie said...

I was a little pinched for time this month, so I chose a Presents title, "Claiming His Bollywood Cinderella" by Tara Pammi. I liked the hero, who wasn't a super alpha jackass, but I HATED the heroine (ugh). The sex scenes were really awkwardly written and/or edited. But I was sufficiently intrigued enough by the upcoming pairing that I'm glad I'd already purchased the next book in this duet even before I'd read this one, LOL. This one's a dud, but hopefully the second one, with a better balance between the H/h, will be better.

Unknown said...

oh romantic came to me ,i wonder if Wendy going to one again someday? are many wanting to go? covid has changed things and now i wonder if it make people want to go ? is this the wrong place to say it , but you said romantic convention , i forgotten all about that . ah well have a good day!

from canada
mamx in a cold wintery canada !

Dorine said...

This one sounds fun, Wendy. You made me chuckle with your villain comment. So true. I'm in the middle of reading/listening to my over 400 page choice for this month, so I'll be late with my review. I'll make my rounds to the other participants' blogs then, too. I miss conventions. It has been a very long time since I've been to one.

Wendy said...

AL: Right?! The past couple of years I've been routinely astounded by stupidity and depth of cruelty in some folks. Romancelandia villains are nearly getting a free pass in "believablity" from me these days.

Whiskey: Ha! Don't be that impressed. My print TBR is cataloged in LibraryThing and I started including notations when I picked up a book at a particular conference. Only the print TBR is this well organized. My digital TBR is a dumpster fire.

Jill: Endearing characters is good! The rest of it - sounds like not so much :(

Eurohackie: I might have that one buried somewhere on my Kindle - the title is ringing a bell. Ugh, on the heroine, but hopeful news about the couple in the next book!

Mamx: I miss in-person conventions SO MUCH! As soon as it's safe to do so I really want to get back to romance conventions to hang out with folks in person.

Dorine: I try to focus on my print TBR for this challenge, and "for reasons" I needed something short this month - so that limited my options considerably. I was in the mood for a western and this one was very nice and pleasant. I'm going to keep an eye out for more books by Holt. She's got a decent-sized backlist.