Trashy Read #13: Harper's Bride, by Alexis Harrington
I know, I know. Two trashy reads in a week? What can I say? I've been on a rampage. Unfortunately, this one just wasn't that good. I'm not sure why I finished it, even. All I know is that I just kept reading and eventually the book was over.
The plot is super-simple. An abusive alcoholic trades his wife, Melissa, and their infant daughter, Jenny, to a trader/storekeeper in exchange for a debt. The trader, rugged and handsome Dylan Harper, takes this trade because he feels bad for Melissa and her terrible life. They live together, trying to stay out of each other's lives as much as possible, and eventually fall in love. The end. There's some complications in the forms of a sick baby, their semi-tragic backgrounds, and Dylan's past romantic hurts. But in the end, they come together as a likeable, tough couple hoping to have a family so unlike the ones they grew up with.
The one thing I liked about this story was the development of Melissa's trust in Dylan. Formerly abused and mistreated by both her father and her husband, she has a hard time trusting another man, particularly one as rough-seeming as Dylan. Eventually, she stops flinching every time he's around and figures out he isn't going to hurt her. Harrington handles this transition quite well. She doesn't suddenly trust him overnight; it takes time and patience from both parties. Also, I really liked Dylan's best friend in the story, Rafe. There wasn't a whole lot of depth to him as a character, but I liked him nonetheless and wished he'd had a better deal in the end (and maybe a book of his own).
So why didn't I like this one very much? Well, the writing was simple and completely without a real sense of style from Harrington. It's not bad writing; it just isn't distinguished or interesting in any way. Also, there might have been some comma misuse. And the setting - Yukon during the late 19th-century gold rush - was clever but not as big a presence as I would have liked. The characters were likeable but a little boring and too good to be true. Sorry. I like a little danger or originality in my romances. And this one just wasn't bringing it.
Next in Trashy Reads: Laura Kinsale's Seize the Fire. I'm super excited about this one, guys!