Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ride a Painted Pony

The Barnes & Noble romance readers group I belong to (which has been meeting for over ten years) meets the first Monday of the month. So, by default, my first book of the New Year is a romance. The January 2008 selection was Ride a Painted Pony by Kathleen Eagle.

Kathleen Eagle is an author who has been on my "must read one of her books" list for some time; and I, liking a little angst with my romance, was looking forward to Ride a Painted Pony as described on the book cover:

Nick Red Shield swerved his pickup and empty horse trailer to avoid her, but neither he nor the mysterious Lauren Davis could avoid the collision of their lives. Though Nick's loner instincts kick into high gear, Lauren's vulnerability tugs at him in ways he'd thought long since shut down. More comfortable with horses than people, he's drawn to the secretive runaway. But even in the safe haven of his South Dakota ranch, among the magnificent painted horses of Western legend, the danger shadowing Lauren's life will compel her to new acts of desperation to save her young son and force Nick to confront demons bent on destroying them both.

Despite its promise, Ride a Painted Pony was a disappointment. Serious problems were handled at a very superficial level, leaving the characters shallow and their conflicts lacking substance. I realize that true-to-genre romance novels will not deal with social issues in any way that would be considered disturbing for readers, and that was a major problem for this book. Lauren has been driven from her home by an abusive partner who keeps her from her young son; Nick is dealing with demons constantly reminding him of a tragic accident. Both hero and heroine kept falling into the plot holes necessitated by the genre commandment: Thou shalt not disturb.

A bit of a disappointing start to this year of reading.

Rating: 2.5/5 (Romance Scale)
Mira 2006
388 pages

Dedication: For the Prairie Writers Guild--Pam, Sandy, Mary, Judy and Kathy. Vive PWG! And to honor the memory of Little Ted

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