The Rugged Loner by Bronwyn Jameson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was underwhelmed with this book. It's the case of good premise, poor execution for me.
What I loved:
* I loved that Tomas, the hero, was celibate after his wife died, and his wife was his first and only lover prior to the heroine.
* I loved that Angie was determined to get her man. I am a sucker for an unrequited love story.
* Cowboy/rancher hero
What I didn't like:
* I didn't like that Tomas was so closed off from Angie, and I never felt connected to his emotional anguish about losing his wife. It seemed more like an excuse not to fall in love, instead of manifesting as cold, hard fear about losing a woman he loved.
* I didn't like how Angie was pretty much chasing after Tomas. It just felt too desperate and kind of sad--with a heroine who came off as really needy, doing all the giving, but getting nothing back. Fundamentally, I'm not a huge fan of books where the heroine does the chasing, although The Magic of You is a book where this was done exceptionally well. This book was not a good execution of that theme. Deep down, I think every woman deserves for a man to court her. If an author strays from that, I like to see it done where the heroine doesn't read as desperate and giving the hero all the emotional power. I don't like unequal power dynamics in my romance books, and this felt way unbalanced. I can understand it more if the hero is obviously crazy about the heroine, but he's fighting his feelings. But Tomas really didn't seem that 'into' Angie for most of the book, other than lust.
* The sudden reversal of Tomas at the end felt unconvincing to me. I was reading the book and realizing I only had a few pages, and all of a sudden, in the last couple pages, he gets the lightbulb about loving Angie. It just didn't feel authentic to me.
* This book just didn't get to me emotionally, and it really should have, with the concepts of a widower mourning his wife and his friend who had been so in love with him for many years. It felt superficial to me. I have the feeling this would have been better as a Harlequin Presents--with a healthy helping of drama to give it that powerful zing. Or maybe if someone like Nalini Singh wrote it, someone who can bring on the emotional intensity.
I was disappointed with this book, and that makes me sad, because it had the kind of hero I would love to read more about. The good thing is it was a short book. Now I can move onto other books in my tbr pile. Onward and upward!
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