Only true love could redeem…. Victoria Waverly, noble daughter of the war-ruined South, is sold in marriage to a ruthless rancher. Honor and pride help her endure life as a wife in name only but nothing can quench her forbidden desire for hired gunman Jake Roper. His gaze is hard, but tenderness he can’t hide promises to unveil to Victoria the mysteries of love.
Only true love can destroy….Jake curses his burning need for Victoria, for he wants nothing to stand in the way of his drive to reclaim Sarratt’s Kingdom — the ranch that is his legacy and obsession. But ancient wrongs and blazing passions will bind together the aristocratic beauty and the powerful cowboy. In a bloody land war, they will fight for Jake’s birthright…and seize at all costs the love that is their destiny.
Lady of the West was originally published in 1990, the height of the Lonesome Dove western craze, and was recently reprinted. It was definitely a nice change of pace from all the vampire and other paranormal books that are currently flooding the bookshelves. It’s nice to know that there are still some cowboys sauntering their way on the shelves. Strong characters and an intriguing plot make this a novel worth picking up.
What Appealed to Me
The characters. They were so well fleshed out. Each one had great backstories and descriptions to make you love them or hate them. From the hero, Jake, to the ranch whore, Angelina(no, that’s not my description, that’s who she was). Victoria, the heroine, was a character I admired. She was strong and independent yet isn’t all that experienced in the ways of love. At first her reaction to sex bothered me a bit because she seemed too naive but then I remembered that she didn’t know ANYTHING about sex whatsoever so it made sense for her to be afraid. I would be a little jumpy too if I had this ruggedly good-looking cowboy telling me he wanted me if didn’t even know what the phrase meant. Victoria’s younger sister, Celia, was also greatly fleshed out. Every scene she was in I could see her bouncing around with wide-eyed innocence. Toward the beginning of the book there were so many characters that it was hard to keep track of them but once they were whittled down it was much easier.
-The plot. The land wars and the cruelty of it all actually happened. It wasn’t sugar-coated just because it was a romance novel. The Civil War and the Restoration afterward is often romanticized but Ms. Howard is truthful and honest about how it was to repair not only our country but the families involved and the desperate measures that were sometimes needed in order to survive. I commend Victoria on making such a sacrifice because I don’t know if I could’ve done the same and married a man like Frank McLain. Speaking of Frank McLain, you hated to love the guy. Linda Howard did a great job with him as a character in general and showing how his past affected him. It wasn’t little spurts here and there of him thinking about what he had done and what had happened to him, but the fear followed him throughout the story. It was very believable.
-The fact that the hero and heroine weren’t the only couples in the book having sex. It was realistic and refreshing. Oh, and steamy. Can’t forget that.
What Didn’t Appeal to Me
– The ending. I’m not going to give anything away but it was less than satisfying. It was too abrupt, too quick for my liking. There was a ton of build up throughout the entire book to what could have been a fantastic climax but instead it was comparable to someone putting out a candle between their fingers and letting it fizzle out. It had so much potential and it was a little frustrated to see it not carried out with the bang it could’ve had.
-This might be a little nit-picky of me but some of the structure bothered me. In some places there wasn’t a clear break in scenes and point of views so I found myself repeatedly flipping back through previous pages to see if I had missed something.
Rating: B. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a gritty, yet romantic western.
Publication date/Price: 1990/7.99
Author’s website: Ms. Howard only has an infortmation site through Random House so check it out. http://www.randomhouse.com/author/results.pperl?authorid=35941