Only With You
Only With You is not really a story about two people who fall in love. Rather, it’s a story about a heroine who thinks she’s in love with her best friend’s fiance‚ until the second to last chapter, and a hero who finally tells the heroine he loves her on the last line of the last page. An extremely patient reader might be willing to wait for these two obtuse people to fall for each other, but by the time they did, I had long since stopped caring.
The story beings with a prologue in Mississippi. Jenny Delaney is the daughter of a rich plantation owner. About five years earlier, her neighbor’s son, Ian Thorne, had been kidnapped by Comanche Indians while in New Mexico. Now Ian’s father has found his son and brought him back to Mississippi. By this point Ian considers himself Comanche; he grabs Jenny and keeps her hostage for three days as a protest.
Flash forward ten years. Now the Civil War is over, Jenny and Ian’s relatives have all died, and Jenny and Ian both live in New Mexico. Jenny is a school teacher and Ian works at a livery stable. On impulse, Jenny kisses a man (not Ian) and the town is in an uproar. The school board thinks she is a loose woman and want her to resign. Really they just want to see her married. After all, she is a beautiful woman who has just inherited a big ranch. Ian has his own problems. He has a four year old son from a previous marriage who needs a mother, and he would also like to make some money. He starts working for Jenny as her foreman, and moves out to her ranch.
You would expect sparks to fly at this point, but they don’t. Ian fantasizes about Jenny a lot, but her fantasies are all about another man – the town sheriff – who happens to be engaged to her best friend. It would have been nice to see Jenny fall in love with Ian instead of the sheriff, but all we get is a quick change of heart at the very end of the book. At least she beat Ian to the punch; up until the last page he insisted that he wanted Jenny for her ranch and her mothering abilities!
There were plenty of other problems too, both large and small. Jenny’s horse was alternately referred to as a mare and a gelding. At the end someone mentioned that the horse was about to foal, so I guess that decided matters. There were several loose ends that were never tied up. For example, Jenny spent much of the book wondering about the fate of her teaching job. At the end, we were still left to wonder. Then there was an improbable scene in which Jenny and Ian were attacked by bandits. Somehow Ian managed to drive them all off, even though there were eight of them. Apparently they attacked without guns, which made no sense since they had them later in the story.
The biggest oddity was the prologue. Its sole purpose seemed to be establishing a prior history between Jenny and Ian, but I couldn’t see why that was important for the story. And the reason for Ian’s kidnaping was very implausible. Ostensibly, he was taken while he and his father were purchasing horses in New Mexico. But no one would have gone all the way from Mississippi to New Mexico in the 1860s for this purpose. They would have been far more likely to travel someplace closer, like Kentucky. And there was no particular reason the characters needed to be from Mississippi anyway. The story could have just started out in New Mexico.
The one bright spot was the romance between Jenny’s friend Hannah, and Milt, the man Jenny thought she loved. Unlike the hero and heroine, Hannah and Milt were both compelling characters who actually loved each other. I wish they had been the hero and heroine. If they had been, this might have been a very different review. Since they weren’t, I recommend skipping this one. Life is simply to short to wait for these slowpokes to fall in love.
I've been at AAR since dinosaurs roamed the Internet. I've been a Reviewer, Reviews Editor, Managing Editor, Publisher, and Blogger. Oh, and Advertising Corodinator. Right now I'm taking a step back to concentrate on kids, new husband, and new job in law...but I'll still keep my toe in the romance waters.