This was another book I read during the past few months but didn’t get a chance to review. I’d read and reviewed for Lynna Banning before on my old Enduring Romance book blog. So, when I saw that studmuffin on the shelf, I knew I was in for a ride.
Confession Time: Although I enjoy and respect the Romance Genre, the fact is I get sick of it sometimes. It’s constantly falling prey to trends. If one kind of hero hits it big, suddenly the book store shelves are full of his clones.
Also, being a longtime-married lady, I just can’t suspend my disbelief for most of them. I know people are making a lot of money off the intoxicating lie that hot nookie magically transforms a selfish jackass into a faithful lover. Sorry, it don’t work like that.
Also, billionaires are fat, old, and selfish. And they’re known for lousy tempers too.
In real life, you need a hardworking man. His occupation is irrelevant so long as its legal and ethical. His income level doesn’t matter either, only that he’s dedicated to taking care of his loved ones. And he must have a code of honor.
You need someone like The Hired Man.
Want to live happily ever in real life? Pay attention. You might pick up some pointers.
Falling prey to a selfish idiot is nothing new. It’s just easier to kick ’em to the curb nowadays.
Eleanor married, homestead, and had a couple of kids. She was living the dream. Except she wasn’t. Her husband took off when the Civil War started and she didn’t know if he was dead or alive. And she was left running the farm and raising two little ones all alone for seven years. Most assumed she was a widow, but no one could really know for sure.
You think it’s hard being a single mom right now? Eleanor sure as heck didn’t have daycare assistance! She didn’t even have extended family around to help.
And then she got sick. Real sick. The kind of sick which takes months to recover from because this story is set well before antibiotics, most vaccinations, and even before most doctors washed their hands first.
Still, Eleanor carried on.
Cord rides up one day and she’s hardly pretty as a picture. In fact, I imagined she looked like death warmed over. But, he needs a place to sleep and food in his stomach. And she needs help around the ol’ homestead. A lot of help.
Good Potential Husband Alert: The Dude’s a Hardworker
So, what’s a mature male like Cord doing at a job usually taken by a teenage boy with more muscles than brains?
Good Potential Husband Alert: The Dude’s not too proud to work any job.
Well, the Civil War, for one thing. It’s too often overlooked as a factor for driving folks West back in the homesteading days. Cord mentions he fought in the War and his wife divorced him. At that point, I’m guessing she didn’t like which side he was on.
Similarly, Eleanor’s husband went away to war and never came back. She took his name off the deed, even though he wasn’t proven dead. Yet. So she’s been making her way alone since her ex left.
And he’s starting over someplace new.
Meanwhile, the townfolk are in something of a tizzy over Eleanor Malloy and her hired man. Women are scarce on the frontier, especially ones owning prime real estate. She’s had gentlemen callers lined up on her front porch every Sunday for some time now, despite her murky marital status.
Speaking of eligible females, the few in town think Cord is hot stuff and can’t imagine what he’d find so interesting about that rundown ol’ mama, except maybe her homestead.
Remember, back then a woman lost virtually all her rights upon marriage.
Turns out, Eleanor is not stand-offish. She’s terribly shy. Cord encourages her to get out there for the sake of her children.
Did I mention Cord knows how to iron and mend clothes? He likes hanging out with the kids, answering their many questions, and teaching them to ride. A dude couldn’t learn those things back then if he didn’t value women and their work.
Good Potential Husband Alert: Not too lazy or proud to do what is considered ‘women’s work.’
Good Potential Husband Alert: Enjoys children and is patient with them.
Of course, they fall in love. The characters and setting are so well-developed that it’s easy to get lost in the story and really feel like you’re there.
Just when the kisses start to taste so good, the dastardly ex-husband shows up. That’s what he’d be in this day and age, an ex-husband. Back then, it’s not so easy. Tom believes in a husband’s ownership rights to his wife’s body, her kids, and everything she owns.
Cord’s gotta protect her. But, he can’t go making love to married woman either. Remember that code of honor every good husband needs?
Lynna Banning has a fantastic backlist. She’s one of those authors you can rely on for a great story and living, breathing characters. If you pop over to her site and scroll down her list, you’ll find the first book of hers I ever read- Crusader’s Lady. http://www.lynnabanning.net/