Reading Kit Dee’s Brit’s Lady is the equivalent of eating fast food – it’s quick but unmemorable. While the story reads at a brisk pace and the lead characters have possibilities, neither seems terribly realistic. The villain has that Snidely Whiplash aura, and the love scenes are marred by the. . . over-exuberant use. . . of d.o.t.s. And, the book features a couple of coincidences that are as manufactured as its characters.
Callista Warwick and her mother are set upon by Indians as they make their way west to the Arizona military outpost her father commands. A lifetime military man, Colonel Warwick and his family have spent the years after the Civil War in Washington, but recent corruption uncovered by newsman R.C. Wickwar has changed that cushy life. Callista and her mother are saved by a lone rider, Brit Chance, who quit his military position in years past. He accompanies them to Fort Bowie, where Callista’s father is stationed, and discovers his old general has reinstated him as lead Indian Scout to investigate how the local tribes have come into possession of military-issue guns.
Though Callista finds Brit arrogant, she feels herself drawn to him. Though Brit is sure Callista is nothing more than your typical “Eastern girl,” he is surprised to discover her inner strength and intelligence. He is further impressed that she is a journalist, but neither he nor anyone else has figured out that Callista Warwick is really R.C. Wickwar. The irony of this is compounded by the fact that Brit believes Colonel Warwick is the one responsible for supplying the Indians.
Callista is a dutiful daughter, and has no inkling that her father might be one of those amorphous corrupt officers she was unable to identify back in Washington. She was to have been married once, but her fiance was killed in an act of heroism. As such, she wants no more heroes in her life, which is why she continues to deny her feelings for Brit. Added to that is the fact that her father dreams of a run for the presidency, and he wants her to marry the son of a powerful Senator. Snidely Whiplash, anyone?
As for Brit, who has been raised in a brothel, he doesn’t believe he is good enough for a woman like Callista. Of course, readers will eventually discover, in another amazing coincidence, that his true heritage brings him far closer to the closest friend he has – a powerful Indian chief.
While the relationship which grows between Brit and Callista is rendered believably, it is the only aspect of Brit’s Lady that is believable. Readers have read about heroes like Brit many times before, and the Warwick/Wickwar thing is so transparent that someone should have figured it out.
Brit and Callista eventually admit their love and act on their feelings. Given that their growing relationship was the one aspect of the story that worked, the love scenes were a disappointment. As indicated earlier, they were marred. . . by the consistent use. . . of d.o.t.s. And though I can’t swear to it, I think one of the love scenes took place under an obligatory waterfall.
The author is to be commended, however, for her rendering of Indians and Indian life, and for her clever weaving in of the historical figure Geronimo. There is no romance “Indian-speak,” nor is the life of the tribe idealized. Still, however, it was somewhat frustrating to read yet another western where the heroine is kidnapped by the Indians, even though there is a slight twist to this capture.
Perhaps bigger fans of westerns will enjoy Brit’s Lady more than I did, but there are better westerns out there to be read. Out this month is Lorraine Heath’s Never Love a Cowboy, which is a far better read than this one, and put out by the same publisher. If you have to choose, go for that one instead.