Marry Me is the second book written by Ms. Goodman set in the town of Reidsville, a prosperous mining town in 1880’s Colorado. I haven’t read the first book, Never Love A Lawman; in fact this is the first book that I have read by Ms. Goodman. However, I don’t feel that it is necessary to read the first book to enjoy the second.
In the prologue, the reader is introduced to Dr. Coleridge Monroe as he is reading a letter from the Reidsville Physician Search Committee, offering him a year’s contract to serve as the town doctor. Unbeknownst to him, his sister Whitley answered the advertisement in his name. Surprised by her actions but impressed with her insight, he agrees to consider the offer. The next time we meet him, he is in Reidsville on horseback, with deputy Will Beatty (no-account Beatty boy) being introduced to the backwoods population known as outliers, and on his way to meet misanthrope Judah Abbot and his scrappy, small built son Ryan, also called Runt. Soon after they arrive, Ryan collapses due to a medical emergency – which results in the discovery of her female gender.
Ascertaining that Rhyne (pronounced Ryan) needs assistance, Dr. Monroe decides that she will be safer in the city and moves her into his home. As Rhyne heals, and becomes accustomed to the loss of her protective disguise, she finds a lot to admire about Cole Monroe. But it not always easy to be Rhyne instead of Runt. Not only does she have to adjust to city life, but she has deal with her developing feelings for Cole. In addition, she knows that she may be in danger.
I am of two mindsets about historical novels. For the most part, I have always thought that the characters should have the attitudes of people from that time period. But if the language or the behavior is too different, that makes it difficult to be transported into the author’s world. Surprisingly, this happened to me with Marry Me. In the prologue, when we are introduced to Coleridge Monroe, MD, I was charmed by the words “obstreperous” and “obdurate”. Not by any stretch of the imagination do I use these words in my everyday conversation, in fact I had to look up the meanings, but they just felt like 19th century type of words. I felt a sense of relief, thinking, “This is not going to be a story with modern day attitudes and jargon with just a wall paper type setting”. But as the setting changed to Reidsville, the country colloquialism just pulled me out of the story. Plus, the pacing seemed slow. After reading about one fourth of the book, the hero and heroine still only had a doctor/patient relationship.
However, after that the book picked up, and I savored the developing relationship between the heroine and hero. I appreciated the fact that the author took the time to lay the foundation for a believable HEA. I was also impressed with the detailed research and how she incorporated Dr. Monroe’s profession within the book. There is a set up for a medical mystery which I thought was very well done. The secondary characters were colorful and interesting. And as an added plus, the author seamlessly included references to some of the classic works of Shakespeare and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, which added unexpected humor.
However, one of my main thoughts during the book was the wish for more insight into the characters’ thoughts and feelings. Rhyne has supposedly been raised in a reclusive environment as a boy and had some horrible experiences, but makes the adjustment to town and her new role as a woman fairly easily. I kept wondering how she was able to go from a unkempt, contrary young man to a woman with the wisdom to mentor Cole’s young sister. If I had been shown this, then I might have been able to take the leap of faith that this could happen, but a large portion of the story is told in third person with not enough insight into Rhyne’s transition.
If I had only had problems with the pacing and the lack of insight, then I would have rated this book in the B range. But two days later, I still am thinking about some of the more horrible things that I saw happening to characters in this book. And for me, it almost overshadowed the happily ever after. So a C+ it is.