Beyond All Reason
This is the first book of Judith Duncan’s Wide Open Spaces series, and I feel it’s a book that’s not to be missed. Tanner McCall is a half-breed Native Canadian, living on a ranch just outside Bolton, Alberta. Now, that might not mean anything to anybody else, but to me, it’s a real town in the Province I call home.
Tanner is the bastard son of Bruce T. McCall. His mother was a native who happened to fall in love with Bruce, and the product of that love was Tanner. Now, in the Native Canadian social sphere, a hand-fast marriage is just as binding to the Native Canadian as a marriage with vows spoken in front of a preacher. While they may have never made the marriage legal on paper, Tanner’s mother was Bruce McCall’s wife in every sense of the word, and they lived together until Tanner turned six. At that time, Bruce McCall went to Texas on business. When he came back, he brought himself back a real Texas bride. I hated Bruce McCall from that point on, and he didn’t even show up in the book!
Into Tanner’s life steps Kate Quinn. She’s an about-to-be-divorced woman with two little boys and she’s trying to run as far away from her ex as possible. She’s been hired by Tanner to look after his business partner and friend, Burt Shaw, who’s suffered a stroke and is paralyzed on one side. This is a blessing for her, a hiding place where she hopes her ex will never find her.
Tanner is that alpha male personified. You know the one I mean, the wounded warrior who has faced adversity and survived, maybe not intact, but he’s still survived. Tanner feels the attraction to Kate right off the bat but he’s appalled at the thought that people from the area will start to believe that Kate is Tanner McCall’s white squaw. He fights tooth-and-nail to keep away from her, but it’s a losing battle, and maybe that’s because Kate isn’t fighting him at all. She doesn’t give a fig what the neighbours say; she wants to love Tanner and heal him, body and soul.
I loved this book, bar none. I think it is some of the finest romance writing I’ve ever read. I laughed in this book when Judith fitted the antics of Burt Shaw into the pages with Kate’s rapscallions, Mark and Scott. Burt was a character on his own, but he was a precious one to be cherished within the pages of this book.
Tanner was a whole other story. He’s morose, almost sullen, and so turned within himself and his pain, you wonder if Kate will ever reach him deep inside. While the humour in this one falls in all the right places, just before you totally cry your heart out for Tanner, this story is not a happy one through much of the book. Judith has a way of making you feel every nuance of her characters feelings, and I was truly moved by what happened in the pages of her story.
Judith has given it everything; child abuse, neglect, a sad little boy who’s grown into a man who’s known only pain for most of his life. Thank God that there were people in his life who stepped in and rescued him. Unfortunately, by that time, he had gone through so much, he coped as best he could with his life. The feelings written about in this book are a true roller coaster ride, so be prepared.
This is a book I would never hesitate to read again and again. I gave this book a rating of B+ even though it warrants an A in my heart. I did that because I got a little tired of Kate’s stomach always roiling around, and it irked me. I feel that there was just a little too much time spent on the “gut wrenching feelings” more than anything else. As well, I felt like the problems with the ex were tied up just a little too compactly and neatly, and there could have been a whole lot more friction there than ended up happening. Other than that, the story was a truly good read. I loved every page of it. I laughed, I cried, I hated, and most of all, I fell just a little bit in love with the man, Tanner McCall. By the way – shhhhhh! Please don’t let my husband know about the other man in my life.