Always a Lady
Friends of the Library booksales are wonderful places to browse for unusual titles. I had read and enjoyed several Sharon Sala books before, but I had never heard of this one. I went ahead and bought this book anyway and was glad I did. Although the opening was overly coincidental, Always a Lady settled down and became an enjoyable little book – one I ended up reading it straight through. When I finished, I put it on my comfort read shelf and have picked it up again and again just to read some favorite parts. I am very pleased that Silhouette has reprinted it – my copy is beginning to show much wear and tear.
Lily Brownfield is a lovely woman who has a bad scar on her face, the result of an accident caused by a drunken driver. Lily’s doctor assured her that the scar can be reduced with some plastic surgery, but that’s not good enough for Lily’s snobbish fiance Todd. He broke their engagement because, according to Todd, Lily could not be a proper hostess with that scar on her face.
Lily was devastated and deeply hurt, quitting her job as a legal secretary because Todd is an attorney at the office and she doesn’t want to see him again. She goes home to recuperate and while she is walking on the beach, she finds a copy of an Oklahoma newspaper. (How this newspaper got to California is a big coincidence). There is an ad in the paper for a temporary ranch cook, and on an impulse Lily answers it. She has been cooking for years for her widowed father and four brothers, and since she wants to get as far away from Todd the rat as possible, what better place than an isolated ranch? When Lily calls the phone number in the ad, a man with a grumpy voice hires her sight unseen. (Evidently he couldn’t find a cook in the whole state of Oklahoma – but we must get the hero and heroine together).
When Lily gets to the ranch, she finds a bunch of hungry cowboys and their boss, Case Longren who is the requisite tall, dark and handsome ranch owner. Case and Lily are snippy and nasty to each other at first. He tells her he doesn’t want any sunflower seeds, green stuff or any of that other weird California food and she has a “they are all just looking at my horrible scar” chip on her shoulder. But when Case gets to know Lily better, how she got her scar and why she took the job, and after he tastes her first meal (lasagna, fried chicken, cold salads, hot biscuits and apple crisp) he starts to unbend. When Lily hears Case describe his desire to plant his size 13 foot in Todd’s butt if he ever sees him, she starts to unbend and the book settles down to Case and Lily’s courtship.
Case and Lily both have emotional baggage to get through. She has her scar and her betrayal by Todd. Where Case is concerned, though his mother ran off and left him and his father alone, he is thankfully not a “you-women-you’re-all-like-my-worthless-mother” type of man. He does have trouble in the trust department, but once Case gives his trust and love he does not look back and he is totally devoted to Lily. The love scenes in this book are passionate and very, very tender too. When Case makes love to Lily in the full sunlight and will not allow her to hide her scar – her frozen heart finally thaws.
Lily’s father and her four brothers make appearances and they are charming supporting characters. There is a wonderful revenge scene where Todd comes to the ranch to announce that he has reconsidered and wants to take Lily away from all this. Lily’s response is absolutely terrific.
It’s a minor thing, but I was impressed by how Sharon Sala integrated Lily’s religious faith into this book. When the cowboys gather to eat, Lily asks if anyone would like to ask a blessing. Later, Lily and her family go to church and she is happy to discover that she and Case are both Methodists. No one makes a big deal out of this – that is simply the way Lily is. This is a nice change from totally ignoring religion like most romances do or making it the main focus of the book like some inspirational romances. Always A Lady is no masterpiece, but it is a very nice little novel. It touched me and Lily and Case were a heartwarming couple. I think I’ll keep my new and old copies on the comfort read shelf for quite a while.