May 2008, Frontier/Western Hist Romance (1890s Texas)
HQN, $6.99, 377 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373772939 Part of a series
The Loner is the first book in the Good Luck Grooms series. The Bad Luck Brides make appearances, but this book features Lucky Logan Grey, the luckiest man in Texas. Lucky’s luck as a detective has earned him fame, although he’s also well-known for helping Dair MacRae (Her Outlaw) find the Bad Luck Treasure. Now a woman from his past needs his good luck to help her through a tough time. Are you overwhelmed yet by all the “luck”? I was, although none of it rubbed off on me as I read Geralyn Dawson's book.
Logan made a mistake when he decided to visit the bank first thing in the morning. Had he just decided to go to the Sporting House first, he wouldn’t have found himself standing in the middle of an armed robbery. And just his luck, he left his gun at home. Most everybody thinks Logan is lucky, but he knows that to be false. His entire family died in a flood when he was five, while he survived to grow up in a home for orphans. But his luck seems to change when a beautiful woman throws herself on him and shoves a gun down his waistband. Now armed, Logan manages to neutralize the situation, with a lot of additional help from the woman. He’s quite happy to further their acquaintance when he meets her later that night, until she starts talking.
Caroline is no stranger to Logan, despite what he may think. She may have been born a Kilpatrick, but she has had the last name Grey for 15 years. Logan and she were married when they were very young, but he left the next morning and never came back. Unfortunately, her bad luck continued as her father died just a couple weeks later, leaving her alone and pregnant. But she found a home with a couple of ex-outlaws, Ben and Suzanne Whitaker. Ben is the reason she finally tracked down her very estranged husband. You see, Ben has gone after Geronimo’s Treasure and in doing so has entered the worst possible outlaw camp, Black Shadow Canyon. Now she needs her husband’s luck and aim to retrieve Ben, but knowing that Logan would never risk his life for an old outlaw, or for her for that matter, she lies and tells him his son, Will, is the one who’s gone after the treasure (I really didn’t know there was so much treasure up for grabs).
I took issue with quite a few things in this book. The cutesy names and obsessive use of the luck theme made me wary of the story right off the bat. In my experience, books that use those devices mostly end up being average at best. Then there were some moments that pulled me out of the time period. At one time Caroline likens Logan to a vampire, which just didn’t seem right for 1890s Texas. Along those lines, Logan tells Caroline that he doesn’t “give a flying rat’s ass,” which definitely seems like a modern expression.
But what really killed this for me was Logan and Caroline’s relationship. He doesn’t realize that they’re really married, since her father paid him to fake it. I understand that and can totally accept his absence. However, Logan didn’t remember her. Not even after she told him her name and that they were married! In fact, he comes up with two other women that could have fit the description, but not her. Caroline feels understandably furious, especially since she never knew what her father did. She just knows that he married her, impregnated her, and left her without looking back. Despite all this, she enthusiastically starts a sexual relationship with him and often instigates their encounters. I don’t understand why she would be attracted to him. He just seems like an over-sexed teenager who uses clichéd lines to get a pretty woman into bed and thinks that this woman’s more of a sure thing because they’re already married.
A small detail of their relationship that I found slightly offensive is that Logan specifically tells Caroline that he takes great care with all the women he sleeps with to prevent against pregnancy, except for that one time with her. He again takes no precautions during their sexual encounters, despite believing that he will not be sticking around and knowing how hard her life has been as an abandoned wife and mother. I already felt like he didn’t care about her and that just cinched it in my mind.
Now, there is a reason that this book didn't earn an even lower grade – I had some interest in reading it, almost against my better judgment. There were different plot twists, such as a tornado incident, that kept it from being a chore. When you take Logan and Caroline out of it, The Loner is pretty average. However, I never once believed the two loved each other and they made many decisions that I thought were just plain stupid. I won’t be testing my luck by picking up the next book in this series.
-- Andi Davis
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