Audrey and the Maverick
Rugged characters, lawlessness, and the spare life of the frontier can make for compelling reading in a well-written Western. I can always soak up a good adventure tale or an emotional tale of love found amidst hardship. Unfortunately, Audrey and the Maverick was no such thing. A trainwreck almost from start to finish, I found very little to enjoy in it.
The novel opens as Audrey Sheridan steals Julian McCaid’s purse. It becomes obvious early on that Audrey didn’t plan this on her own, but got forced into it by the corrupt town sheriff and his cronies who use threats against her family to blackmail her. Audrey thinks she has gotten away with the theft of the pouch containing $10, but as she heads home, Julian confronts her.
So far everything seemed dramatic and even interesting enough, if slightly overwritten. Then I started reading Chapter 2. Julian confronts Audrey and does just what every normal robbery victim would do. Yep, that’s right. He decides to punish her with a very forceful kiss. Ugh. Then, being such a prince of a guy, Julian accosts Audrey again the next morning and takes her to the sheriff.
By the time the entire mess is over, Audrey has been ordered out to Julian’s remote work camp to cook for his men. She will be a very young woman alone in a camp full of rough men. If you think this will be the cue for Julian to embark upon some old-fashioned possessive behavior towards Audrey and hyper-protective alpha male antics, you would be right. After Audrey goes out to the work camp, it’s very obvious that Julian is attracted to her, but both of them flounce around and behave like idiots rather than admit it.
In addition, Julian has a mixed racial background and uses this as an excuse not to seriously pursue Audrey because he doesn’t want to burden a woman with the stigma of being married to him. This ultimately makes no sense because Julian also spends a chunk of the book plotting to go back East and pick out a Virginia heiress to marry for money. Ah well, Audrey has a touch of the doormat personality and isn’t the sharpest heroine out there, so she may not notice the inconsistencies of Julian’s thinking. She also seems to be distracted by pondering things such as whether that tingly moistness between her legs means she’s getting the flu (seriously).
On top of all this, we get a subplot involving Audrey and her life in town. Apparently, Audrey and her younger brother have taken in all the stray children of the town. And yes, Audrey does come off as the Western equivalent of those annoying Regency heroines who like to bring all those lovable stray criminals into their households. The youngest of Audrey’s children is only a toddler, so Audrey takes her out to the work camp and allows Julian to think the child is her daughter. This means that in addition to Audrey fussing over her brood of orphans, we get all kinds of fun with Julian wondering how such a pure, special snowflake of a creature like Audrey could have done the dirty deed and gotten herself with child. Maybe she’s not what she seems, maybe it was a rape. etc… Time spent inside Julian’s head got more than a little tiresome.
The plot involving the eeevil town sheriff and Audrey’s desperation to preserve her little family had some good moments and the ultimate fight against the bad guys was quite readable, if violent. However, that was not nearly enough to save this book. Neither lead character particularly drew my interest, and I spent much of my reading time hoping that it would all be over soon. This is not a sign of a winning book and, indeed, this is one that I would not recommend.
I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.