February 2008, Series Romance
Harl Amer Romance #1199, $4.99, 217 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373752032 Part of a series
The Right Mr. Wrong is the second book Cindi Myer set in Crested Butte, Colorado (following Marriage on Her Mind). It's a quick, light read, and though the main characters have a fair amount of baggage from their past, the book is not filled with angst or deep emotions. While I enjoyed the heroine, though, the hero is ultimately forgettable.
Maddie Alexander was one of America's skiing sweethearts, a sure pick for the 2006 United States Olympic team and a gold medal. From a very young age, skiing was her entire focus. Then, in a pre-Olympics race, she suffered a catastrophic accident that left her with months of rehabilitation, as well as an artificial hip and a titanium repair to her tibia. Although she eventually could ski again, Maddie lost her nerve for many skiing situations, and stopped racing. She decided to take a temporary job with the ski patrol at the Crested Butte Mountain resort. The job gives her the chance to ski on a daily basis, something she can't imagine living without, while she decides what to do with the rest of her life.
Maddie has some flashbacks to her accident, but she doesn't spend her days wallowing in the past. She is genuinely trying to make a new life for herself, one that will include some risk (as she admits to being a risk-seeker). I liked Maddie, and felt that the book accurately described her feelings of being at a major crossroads in her life.
While Myers draws the heroine with strong brush strokes, the hero is more vague. Hagan Ansdar (and it took me awhile to warm up to that name) moved to the United States from Norway as an adult to work as a software developer in Austin, Texas. The author has Hagan speak in a slightly stilted manner; I assume this is to emphasize his Norwegian ancestry. While other characters speak naturally, and make heavy use of contractions and slang, he only uses formal English, and speaks in rather short sentences. While this is undoubtedly accurate for a new resident of the United States, it also made Hagan less approachable for me as a character.
When things went bad in his life, Hagan quit his job in Austin, and joined the ski patrol in Crested Butte. He has been on the ski patrol for several years during skiing season, working as a seasonal ranger for the forest service in the summers. Hagan has a reputation as a player; notorious for having sex with numerous female tourists visiting the resort (although this all occurs before the book begins). He avoids sexual relationships with any of the "locals," including his co-workers at the resort, but doesn't avoid friendships among this group. In fact, the book features several scenes in which Hagan interacts with his various friends in Crested Butte.
When the book begins, Maddie has worked at the resort for two weeks. While she finds Hagan physically attractive, she is appalled by his reputation. Gradually, thrown together in repeated work and social contexts, the two become friends. Maddie begins to learn that there is more to Hagan than he lets most people know, and he, despite trying to fight it, is attracted to Maddie.
One thing I particularly liked about this book was watching the hero and heroine at work, and in a rather unusual occupation. By the time I turned the last page, I had a good feel for what someone who worked in a ski patrol at a resort would actually do. Myers also does a good job describing the community around the resort. I actually looked up the town on the web to make certain that Crested Butte does exist. She described the town so vividly, as well a the wacky celebrations that occur there - that I began to suspect that it was as fictional as its residents. A quick look at the author's website reveals that she lives about an hour and a half away, in Denver.
For me, this book is as much about Maddie's self-discovery - what will she do without racing - as it is about the romance of Maddie and Hagan. While Maddie is a vivid character for me, Hagan is much less so. In fact, I will probably remember Crested Butte and the ski patrol experience long after I have forgotten Hagan. While I can't give a recommendation to The Right Mr. Wrong, reading it was mostly an enjoyable experience. I will definitely seek out other books by Cindi Myers in the future, particularly if they're set in Crested Butte, Colorado.
-- LinnieGayl Kimmel
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