Lone Star Trouble by Autumn Piper
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
First, let me admit that I'm always wary of freebies, even though I can't resist their allure. Is it free? Gimme! :) Lone Star Trouble was one of the freebies given away by All Romance eBooks last December, but contrary to the norm, I was excited to read it. Based on the raving reviews and 5-star ratings I'd seen on different websites, I thought I was in for a nice treat. Well, color me sadly surprised...
Kiersten Day isn't too fond of Texans - for reasons that are still unclear to me - and billionaire cattleman CJ Howell is her current nemesis. He wants to buy her family ranch and has resorted to all kinds of dirty tactics and veiled threats to convince her to sell, but she isn't budging. A series of wrong assumptions leads Kiersten to believe that Cleve (né Cleveland), one of CJ Howell's sons, is just a mere employee of her nemesis. Cleve keeps quiet, hoping to gain her friendship - and something more - so he can find a peaceful solution for the feud between her and his father. Needless to say, Cleve's secret is revealed soon enough and... it's no big deal. Say what?! Yup, that's right. The Earth doesn't stop turning and Kiersten doesn't blow a gasket. She isn't happy, of course - but her reaction is quite subdued considering the explosive nature she has.
That didn't make sense in the context of the story and that was when I realized I wasn't getting it because this book was too "busy", with several secondary(?) characters and storylines that only served to confuse me. We had (1) Kiersten's grandfather, who was sick but refused to go to the doctor's, (2) Kiersten's friend Nate, who was in love with her even though he was gay(?!), (3) Cleve's twin brother Clay, who was also gay and sparked Nate's interest even though Nate was in love with Kiersten(?!), (4) Kiersten's deceased husband's friend Tracy, who was on trial for statutory rape (and something else I don't remember) and hated her guts, (5) CJ's longtime friend/employee Chaz, a chauvinist who hated Kiersten's guts, ... Phew! I could go on, but I think I've already made my point.
That multitude of characters and subplots hurt the development of Kiersten's and Cleve's characters and their relationship. I'm sorry to say, but I didn't like Kiersten. She was one of those heroines who thinks that being strong and independent means being bitchy. I understood she'd been through a lot, but her groundless prejudice against all things Texan, her potty mouth and her agressive demeanor prevented me from caring for her. As for Cleve, he was a nice guy - and that's all I can say about him. He was so bland that it was almost as if he was a secondary character. Overall, I didn't buy the "love" between Kiersten and Cleve and, blasphemy, I thought she had better chemistry with Nate than with Cleve! That was the ultimate blow. When I don't believe in the connection between the H/h in a romance book, the story is pretty much ruined for me.
Another thing that really bugged me was the way Ms. Piper wrote some - not all - of her Texan characters' speech. Here's a quote from the book:
"Hello there. Miz Day, Ah presume? Ah'm Charles. Chaz, most folks call me. Ah come to talk bizness."
Gah! That was so OTT and annoying, I had to take a deep breath whenever Chaz and CJ Howell, who also spoke like that, uttered a line. Cleve's and Clay's lines weren't written like that, even though they were as Texan as their father CJ and Chaz. Why the distinction? Only Ms. Piper knows for sure. My guess is, CJ and Chaz were old generation and sneaky, while Cleve and Clay were "modern" and trustworthy.
So there you have it: I didn't like this book - and I'm wondering what's "wrong" with me because it looks like I'm the only reader who didn't... Anyway, I didn't hate it either so I'm not striking Ms. Piper off my list for good, but if I come upon another book by her in the future, I won't let myself be too excited by no matter how many 5-star reviews I see.
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