Woman Hater by Diana Palmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reading this book this week turned out to be a serendipitous thing. I needed a book like this in my life right now. I'm kind of homesick, overworked, stressed, and tired. And a great book really helps to lighten my load. There are things about this book that I loved that I could go hoarse trying to explain to someone who doesn't 'get' why people enjoy Diana Palmer's writing.
Every writer has a formula. Find me one who doesn't if you want to dispute this statement. Sometimes the formula is disguised as anti-formula, but it's still there, all right. I think some authors get lambasted much more than others for their formula. Heck, I've been reading Diana Palmer for about 20 years, maybe more. I will freely admit that she does have a formula. And my retort to a mean-spirited anti-Diana Palmer reader is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Why do I say that? Because she can write a book that can make me laugh, stir my emotions, turn on the heat, without being overly descriptive, blatantly sexual, or outside of pretty much any reader's sexual comfort zone, and make me cry or feel like I might cry, and I end the book happy that the couple found their happy ending together. Do I love all the elements in her books? No. But I can't say there is a writer in my list of favorites where I can say that I don't dislike some aspect of what they have included in a story. That's including my absolute faves (including Diana Palmer): Anne Stuart, Kresley Cole, JR Ward, Christina Dodd, Nalini Singh, Lisa Kleypas, Laura Kinsale, Sherrilyn Kenyon/Kinley MacGregor, Simon R. Green, Jim Butcher, Manly Wade Wellman, and many more.
If I were to way the things I don't like about Diana Palmer's writing against what I love, she'd still and does make my list.
What I don't love/like:
--excessively hairy men
--minimum of ten year age difference between hero and heroine
--tendency for hero to be verbally abusive (but I can see why most of them are that way. She writes very tortured heroes who have a history of being betrayed by a woman in some way. The most verbally abusive ones had a bad experience with a mother, and that can really mess a person up. She does the 'I am mean because I don't want to be in love' hero very well, in my opinion. There are a couple that I felt were worthy of being brained to death with my titanium shovel that I keep handy for jerky heroes, but most of them, I can end the book feeling like they've made up for their bad behaviors.)
What I do love about her writing:
--she can make laugh like crazy. She is such a funny writer. I love to laugh. You do the math.
--she has wholesome characters (and is not afraid for them to have old-fashioned morals)
--she tries to introduce information about different cultures (and peoples of different cultures) into her stories (although I wish she would have some Black characters move to Jacobsville).
--she writes extremely poignant, emotional stories with characters I feel for and care about
--even though her heroes can be mean at times, they do repent and show their remorse and go on to be very loving and caring to their heroines, and they are not physically abusive or sexually cruel
--personally, her gentle heroines (often disparagingly called doormats) don't bother me. I like them. Some are more tolerant than others, but she has some pretty smart alecky heroines who can give tit for tat, and score some verbal darts to keep them neck for neck with the hero. Her heroines are usually very kind, and are often very tormented. I love a tortured hero (a lot), but I also appreciate a tormented heroine. I like to see her get the happiness she deserves at the end of the story. I like her heroines. They are really good women who don't always get the best shots in their life. They make lemonade out of lemons, and that's to be admired.
--she's not afraid to write a virginal, less-experienced, or celibate hero, or a hero who might have a sexual dysfunction, for that matter.
--personally I think she has tried to do different things with her writing. Yeah, the rare Diana Palmer hater out there who reads this review might disagree with that, but how many Diana Palmer books have you read to dispute this? I've lost count of how many of her books I've read.
Argh!! Why do I always have to go into Diana Palmer defense mode? I love her, and that's good enough for me. I think it's because I think she's a dear, sweet lady, and I just want to hug her. Her books have brought so much joy into my life for more than half of my time on this earth. Even when I cast my most critical eye on her books, I still love what she does, because she's such a good storyteller. It says something when an author can have similar storylines, but still engage a reader's interest and enjoyment. I can't say I love all her stories to the same degree (only one story got a C rating from me by this author), but I always enjoy reading them, and the time spent on them. And they stay on my keeper shelf.
Well, Woman Hater is an older book that somehow got past my Diana Palmer radar. Thank you, HMS, for bringing this one to my attention. I was lucky enough to find it on Amazon used for a decent price, and I bought it. I'm so glad I did. This story does have a hero who has a grudge against women. Yet surprisingly, although he blew hot and cold, he wasn't cruel to Nicole. At the most, he kept her at a safe distance, until his passion seemed to get out of control (which happened frequently). You could tell that he genuinely liked and respected her from the beginning. He was very sweet to her, and really wooed her very gently and showed her the adoration a hero should show to his heroine. When she needed him, he was there for her.
I enjoyed hearing about life on the ranch in Montana, the interactions between Winthrop and Nicole (great chemistry from the beginning), and the secondary characters. I wanted to be in Montana in the fall, during a bad blizzard, stuck in the ranch house with Winthrop, Nicole, his brother Gerald, and various other cast and characters. I was sitting at the car dealership this morning, laughing out loud, and not minding the long wait for my car. In fact, I was happy to wait because I had some actual reading time for this book. I admire how Ms. Palmer can write romances that are very genteel in their love scenes, but very sensuous at the same time. I don't know how she does it, but I do find her love scenes stirring (did I say that out loud?)
Nicole has some very troubling issues with her family. I felt really bad for her because of what happened with her mother and father. I had to give her props for walking away from what she did, gaining her independence, and her own life, and sticking to what was right. I don't know how you can call a woman who could do what she did a doormat or weak. I certainly don't. I liked how she came to terms with her father, who had a 'Peter Pan' syndrome like you wouldn't believe. She had to open her mind and heart to seeing that he wasn't the villain that she always thought he was.
I liked Winthrop. I think he was flawed in a very human, relatable manner. Like him, when I am hurt by people, I tend to withdraw into myself. I am not one to put myself out there to get hurt again and again, so I don't blame him for keeping women at a distance, when his love turned her back on him because of a potentially crippling injury. That would really destroy a person's pride and ability to trust. He saw Nicole working for his brother, and part of him fell in love with her then and there, although he couldn't admit it to himself. She never left his mind, and he was afraid to love her. But for all that, he did what needed to be done, and showed his love in a way that brought tears to my eyes.
Ah, this sap loves the romance of that kind of story. I had to give this to be a five star read because it was really enjoyable. I laughed, almost cried, felt for the characters, and I was so interested, I didn't want to put it down. If you can find this one, definitely give it a read. If you haven't read Diana Palmer, but you've heard really ugly things about her, don't let that dissuade you if you want to give her a try for yourself. No, she might not be everyone's cup of tea. And that's okay. However, I assert that Ms. Palmer has earned her fans' loyalty in her many years of writing. I'll speak for myself. She's definitely a woman who has my steadfast loyalty.
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