REVIEW: A Texan On Her Doorstep by Stella BagwellMonday, March 9, 2009 1:00
Ever begin reading a book and you’re immediately sucked into it? It’s emotional, it’s got a competent heroine, the hero is yummy beyond words, and the conflict is compelling and heartbreaking. Sounds like a great book, right? So you keep reading and the further you get into the story you start to notice that the whole affair is heading south. It goes from good to bad the more you read, and by the end of it you can hardly remember the fact that you had any initial goodwill towards the story at all.
Mac MacCleod and his brother Ripp are lawmen in south Texas. Ripp is married with kids, and Mac is divorced with no desire for another trip down the altar. They have good jobs and good lives. Then a friend shows up on their doorstep with a packet of letters he found while he was sorting through his deceased mother’s belongings. The letters mention Ripp and Mac and were written by a woman named Frankie. That was their mother’s name. The same mother who ran off and abandoned them when they were children. With their father dead, and this new evidence falling into their laps, Mac decides to head to New Mexico to meet this Frankie. To find out if she really is their long lost mother.
However when he gets there he finds out Frankie is in the hospital. She’s so ill that her doctor isn’t allowing any visitors other than family. When Dr. Ileana Sanders hears Mac’s story she’s floored. Frankie is a trusted family friend. The idea that she has children she abandoned is inconceivable. She fears that Mac confronting Frankie now would cause the woman to have a heart attack, but she promises him that he’ll be able to see her just as soon as her health improves. In the meantime, the doctor and long-lost son start spending a lot of time together.
The conflict is what immediately drew me to this story, as it sounded particularly gut-wrenching, which it is. By far the best part of this book is the moment when Mac and Frankie finally have their face-to-face meeting. It’s enough to rip your heart out. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for me to overlook aspects of the romance that really pushed my buttons.
Warning: I do my best to not write spoilers into reviews, but I have to here. There’s no way for me to express what did not work for me in this book without some spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Ileana is a Plain Jane. She’s a successful, well-respected physician, but she’s a failure when it comes to her personal life. At first I thought she was just painfully shy and a little unsure of herself. No, our girl is dead below the waist until, of course, the hero comes along. She’s 38 years old and still a virgin. Do 38-year-old virgins exist? Yes, I’m sure they do. But this one? It’s like reading about a 14-year-old bookworm who suddenly finds herself out on a date with the football quarterback. That’s how nervous she is around him. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake her senseless. You’re 38-years-old! You’re a doctor! You are pretty! You’re supposed to be a woman, not a 14-year-old girl! Snap out of it!
Mac starts out as a great hero. He is a tad too good to be a true – a cowboy with heart-stopping good looks and good manners to boot. The kind of guy who is nice to old ladies, helps women put on their coats, and holds open doors. I was half in the love with him, and then the love scenes show up. Our rugged, handsome, sexy cowboy talks during the love scenes. Yep, we get a poetry spouting Care Bear. The sexy cowboy starts saying things that no real man would ever say, let alone while having sex. Words like “lovely,” “precious,” and “sweetness.” Um yeah, sorry. Not buying.
The final straw was the ending. The inner feminist in me was so angry I set my Sony Reader down, not so gently, on my desk. It made a banging sound. It was only after I did this that I panicked, and yes, turns out my baby is fine. I wish I could say the same thing for my blood pressure. Yes it does have a happy ending, just as any romance should, but it’s one where the heroine gives up her entire life for twu wuv.
And the worst part is, she doesn’t have to. The hero is more than willing to meet her halfway, but she brushes him aside and basically says, “No, no, I’m ready to get hitched, move away from my family, quit my job and start squirting out triplets for you darling. I love you so much my sexy cowboy. The only man to look at me twice. Please let me give up everything for you. You should sacrifice absolutely nothing. Let me do it all! Oh and we’ll just completely ignore the fact that I told you previously over the course of this story that I find my career fulfilling and rewarding. Now that I’ve had mind-blowing orgasms with you my darling, I know I was just talking nonsense.”
OK, so I might be paraphrasing just a bit.
That pretty much sealed the deal for me. I wanted to like this story, and in fact I did, at first. The author managed to effectively pull my heartstrings during the mother/son reunion scene, and the story is well written. But the rest of it? I just couldn’t look past it. Note to self: Sony Reader is more breakable and expensive than Dead Tree Book. Not a good idea to fling it across room, up against a wall, or slam down on your desk.
As deputy sheriff, Mac MacCleod gave difficult newsâ€”but now he’s about to get it. He’s planning to confront his long-lost motherâ€”until he’s blocked by her formidable doctor. Ileana Sanders isn’t about to let any long, lean Texan in a Stetson stress her patient. And this news would set off fireworks!
But she can’t help being there for this tormented man. A sexy stranger who sees past her plain-Jane facade to the woman who yearns for a partner, a protectorâ€¦a lover. In helping Mac search for a family, could Ileana end up with a man of her own?
Read an excerpt.