Now, some of you are going to like Lucky Stars better than I did. That’s a fact, and I’ll be glad if you do! Patricia Roy is a new author, and this is a strong debut book for her. There are many appealing elements to Lucky Stars, not the least of which is the hero, Leon McCoy. He is wonderful, and you’ll think so, too. The author has a charming style and a gentle humor that pervades the story, but it was, oddly, these very elements that by the end of the book, had started to work against my enjoyment.
Pretty Marjorie Bascom cannot file a claim on the land she wants because she is a single woman. The solution, of course, is to find some man who is willing to marry her, sign for the claim, then get the heck out of Dodge (well, Hope Springs, Colorado) so she can get on with her homesteading. No, she doesn’t want a man for keeps, because men are roving creatures, never happy to be in one place, always leaving their women and children behind to fend for themselves. Marjorie’s father and brother-in-law were like that, so she’s determined to get on with her life without a man in it.
Leon McCoy, a handsome, sexy drifter, spies Marjorie sitting primly in the saloon and mistakenly thinks she is one of the bawds, so he approaches her. She’s about the sweetest lookin’ workin’ gal he’s ever seen, and he begins to think the evening might just turn out all right. But single-minded Marjorie has other plans – wedding plans – and, when Leon politely turns her down, she contrives to entrap him into marriage, which she manages without much effort.
Completely against marriage, suddenly Leon begins to think of Marjorie as his wife – a forever kind of arrangement, not the temporary thing Marjorie envisions. He begins to imagine how nice it would be to settle down with this woman, but her irritating drive to homestead a worthless piece of property is a mystery to him. Marjorie wants Leon to leave (before she does something foolish such as fall in love with him, only to have him leave like all the rest), but Leon has been implicated in a murder and cannot leave town until things are settled.
Now, we all know what happens in marriages of convenience, don’t we? These two very nice people, thrown into close proximity (the same bed), are bound to come up with something more interesting to do than discuss crop rotation, so pretty soon, Leon and Marjorie end up in the hot springs consummating their never-to-be-consummated marriage. Can true love be far behind?
The many characters that surround and support Marjorie and Leon are not stereotypical, and are very nicely drawn. Author Roy’s writing style has a charm and sweetness to it that I like – reminiscent in some ways of Stef Ann Holm. Leon has always been on the outside looking in (in the home and family department), and cannot believe his luck when he realizes what he has in Marjorie. Now, if she would only get over that notion that he’s going to leave her…
As enjoyable a story as this is, there are a couple of problems. The number of Leon’s step-mothers defies logic, and his childhood is a little too contrived to be realistic. I did get tired of Marjorie’s one-note “men leave” song – which kept repeating over and over throughout the story. These are small nits though, and are not unique to this book, certainly. But, the element that I initially liked about the book, the style in which it was written, began to wear on me by the second half, and I found myself putting this book down or skipping pages. There is a great deal of narrative (where there should be action), which removes the reader from the immediacy of the story. The book is slowly paced – perhaps it could have been tightened up by about fifty pages to eliminate these problems.
However, having said all that, Patricia Roy has written a very appealing story, populated with very appealing characters. You’ll like Marjorie and Leon, and all the others, especially a brief appearance by an utterly unique and delightful character – a doctor who never finishes his sentences. Absolutely adorable – very funny.
Do give Lucky Stars a read – there are many things about it you will enjoy. Patricia Roy has a definite talent, and I truly look forward to her next book.