Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Trail of Kisses (Hot on the Trail Book 1) by Merry Farmer


Someone is trying to kill Lynne Tremaine. After her father sentences two members of The Briscoe Boys gang to death, Judge Tremaine feels he has no choice but to send Lynne to Denver City along the Oregon Trail to live with her Uncle George…against her will. For Lynne, the only thing worse than being sent away to the wild west is making the journey with the handsome, arrogant, wicked man her uncle has hired to escort her. Especially when the anger she feels toward him begins to turn to something hotter. 

Cade Lawson is determined to prove himself to his employer, George Tremaine, after letting him down months earlier. But what he thought would be his second chance may, in fact, be a harsh punishment for his past mistakes. Lynne is headstrong, fiery, and determined to show him she is fearless. She is also beautiful and tempting, and when Cade sees just how afraid she really is underneath her brave act, he may be in danger of losing his heart to her forever. When her would-be killer attacks, it’s all he can do to keep Lynne safe. 
He swore to protect her, but who will protect him from her?

Donna's Review:

Farmer's writing is above average. Nothing fancy here, just clear sentences and plotting that moves from one event to the next. Characters have clearly defined internal and external goals, and thus, they pop from the page. (Not necessarily in a good way. More on that in a minute.) Farmer leaves no stone unturned as far as milking the plotting, the character’s flaws and their external and internal goals and weaving them towards a conclusion. The historical details (minus one issue further down) enhance the story and add to its depth. Farmer is a good story teller, even if the plotting is predictable, and you’ll turn from one page to the next. A good light read.

However, there were times I was scratching my head, especially in regards to the hero and heroine. Lynne Tremaine is a stubborn, progressive woman, but twice she does things that I do not think, historically, would have been done no matter how stubborn she was. I really cannot treat those here because I will spoil the plot story, but she comes across as a bit of a spoiled brat that simply wants her way and she is not concerned about either her reputation (which was important to women in those days and of her social standing) or the others on the wagon train. She is contrite enough later, but at her age, early 20s, she should have known better to begin with. The events and her choices do cause the plot to move forward, but they appear a bit contrived in my opinion.

To make matters worse, the hero, Cade Lawson, lets her do these things, when he should definitely have known better. Not typical hero behavior, when the premise of the book is that he is supposed to be taking care of her. 

My biggest issue, however, had to do with the sexual relationship. After they sleep together (a scene in which the hero purposely entices her to sleep beside him on the pretext he is 1) taking care of her and 2) dares her), there is no thought given to a possible pregnancy on either of their part, which is a bit odd contextually. This, of course, is one of my pet peeves with historical fiction – the ability of authors to completely forget that before the birth control pill became widely available in 1972, women worried about getting pregnant and thus were concerned for their reputation, as were the men. Fallling into a compromising situation due to the circumstances, and letting ones guard down sexually, is a whole different matter than the hero contriving to sleep with her on a wagon train in close quarters when he knows doing so puts her reputation at risk. It matters not how he feels about her at that point. Farmer, of course, is not the only author to forget this important historical detail for the sake of the story, but the contrived nature makes this a bit of a turn off for me. I realize I am in the minority here, however.

In regards to the sex scenes – men’s body parts are named, so this is not sweet nor tame. Steer clear if you do not like borderline graphic sex.

The other two things that bothered me - I got tired of reading that Lynne was “her Papa’s brave girl,” and I figured out who the villain was from the beginning.

Farmer is a good writer, and this is the only book I have read. If it was not for the sex, I would gladly pick up another to try, so despite the flaws in this book, she is an author worth pursuing. I understand some of her book are very good.

3 roses for this one because of the plotting issues above, but still worth a read if you like western historicals.

Length: 226 pages
     Paperback: $9.74
     Digital: $0.00
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