Desert Isle Keeper
Breaking the Rules
When I read Ruth Wind’s trilogy of books about the Forrest brothers, Marriage Material, Reckless, and Her Ideal Man, I knew she was an exceptional writer. I have hunted down as much of her backlist as possible. It is one of her earlier books, Breaking the Rules, that has touched me deeply. It is my favorite Ruth Wind title and one of my favorite books.
When the book opens, Mattie, the heroine is cutting off her long hair. She is frightened, running away and trying to hide. When we meet her again, she is living in a small town and working as a waitress. One morning, a tall man with long hair pulls up on his motorcycle. When Mattie serves him his breakfast, he talks to her and it is clear he is attracted. Mattie learns his name is Zeke and he comes to town ever so often; he works for a while, then goes away.
Mattie and Zeke meet from time to time and develop a friendship. One night, Mattie sees Zeke take care of a tired and crying baby for a harassed mother so she can get some rest and a bite to eat. It is obvious that Zeke loves children and Mattie is intrigued.
Mattie’s stay in the small town is interrupted by the arrival of two men who are looking for her. We learn that Mattie was engaged to a man she met in church. He was handsome, rich, and good to his mother. He was also a crook who was using his place of business to smuggle drugs and guns. When Mattie witnessed him killing two men, she ran. She’s been running ever since. Her former fiance and one of his henchman have tracked her down and mean to kill her.
Zeke helps Mattie escape and he takes her to his cabin in Colorado. We learn that Zeke is the son of an abusive drunk. His father would beat him and burn him with cigarettes. He is covered with scars, mostly from beatings and burnings administered by his father. Even though he loves children, Zeke is afraid of intimacy, afraid that his father’s meanness will come out and he will hurt someone he loves.
Mattie was orphaned young and grew up in a succession of foster homes. Some of them were good and some were almost as bad as Zeke’s. She has longed for stability, love, home and family all of her life and here she is falling in love with a battle-scarred drifter.
I loved this book. I loved how Ruth Wind has shown us a man who was the victim of horrible abuse as a child, yet grew up into a kind man who loves children and babies and longs for some of his own. Mattie’s awful childhood has not left her bitter, she is loving and full of hope.
I read this book at one sitting and then immediately began to read it again. I have seldom felt such love and empathy for two characters as I did for Zeke and Mattie. When Mattie left Zeke for a short time, Ruth Wind conveyed the loneliness of this man who had thought he was a loner so well, that I thought my heart would break. When they were reunited, I wept with joy. Breaking the Rules is a book filled with deep emotion, yet it is never maudlin or sappy. It only reinforces my opinion that Ruth Wind is one of the best writers of romance today. The day I find all of her older books with be a very happy one.