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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Between the Lines

Between the Lines by Kathy Otten
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Snapdragon

Anxious to escape the confines of her loving, but overprotective family, Meg Greyson travels to Wyoming Territory to marry the man of her dreams. Only she discovers Brendan Kelly is nothing like the gentleman rancher who penned her beautiful letters. As she comes to know this intimidating, yet tacit man, Meg finds herself constantly having to rationalize away his dark and dangerous side in order to conform him to her image of the perfect man who wrote her letters.

Brendan knows he should tell her the truth, but once he does, she will leave him forever. So he keeps pretending and every time she says, “I love you,” he dies a little more inside, for he knows he will never be the man she wants him to be.

Between the Lines introduces spunky spitfire Meg Grayson, just as she steps off the stagecoach to a whole new life. She's kept up a lively correspondence with a surprisingly sensitive, and even insightful, rancher but has a better grasp of what his ranch looks like than him. Although it seems a high risk move, lovely Meg takes the plunge and journeys out from New York City to a whole new life.
However, red-headed Mister Brendan Kelly is not what she expected -almost a whole different person than the one she imagined. And, we have to assume that she must indeed be a far cry from the person he envisioned, or did he have some other motivation in mind?

A plethora of questions assail the reader at this point. Is Kelly unscrupulous and conniving? Or a hard-working rancher that doesn’t express his emotions as well in person as he does on paper? And... is he the biggest man Meg has ever seen? She's not easily intimidated though; if she has to stand on a bucket to have a shot at looking him in the eye, then that is exactly what she does.

The plot may sound familiar (a la mail-order bride) but this tale is one surprise after another. Dialogue is quick, sometimes quirky, but always revealing. Meg is fun, lively and has a quick mind (and temper). Once or twice, we do wonder how she manages not to simply flounce off in a huff (and more than once, you will want her to).

Kelly is the classic tragic-hero, whose past permanently colors his character. He seems, all at once, unsympathetic and annoying, but also admirable and incredibly tough. He never denies the powerful physical attraction he has for Meg, although he has a stern hold on his own feelings.

Old-west characters, the general store, saloon, and dusty road to the ranch all offer some local, real cowboy flavor to the background. Fans of westerns will definitely not be disappointed. Occasionally, meandering descriptions slow what would otherwise be a thoroughly fast paced affair. But make no mistake, through all the confusion, mistrust and mutual attraction, the two strong-minded characters keep you guessing, from beginning to end. From light and quirky, to sensual and strong-- Otten's western romance guarantees to delight.