Said No One Ever
Said No One Ever is a quick, fun, if unmemorable romp about a woman discovering herself and coming into her own on a Montana ranch. It’s a decent read but not a particularly inspiring one, but sometimes breezy does the job.
Nursing school dropout and recent broken-up Ellie Reed is headed to Montana and a vacation at an AirBnB, far from her hectoring, demanding, paranoid, clingy mother, the pressures of her life and the constant comparisons her mother makes between Ellie and her seemingly-perfect sister, Averie. It doesn’t matter that Ellie is again single, that she’s lost her job as a medical transcriptionist due to budget cuts, and that the situation at home is surprisingly thorny; she’s going to relax and have a good time, damn it.
Unfortunately, Ellie almost instantly finds herself caring for a cadre of irascible animals, including the hyperactive dog Hilda, who is unfortunately described as a ‘spaz’ more than once in the book. Ellie’s host, Marilyn Perry, is elderly and laid up with a broken hip after a fall, and her grown children are not about the house as often as she says they are. Ellie soon meets the handsome Blake Robinson, who lives on the neigboring property and whom Marilyn hires to till her fields, and then Warren Oliver, Marilyn’s grandson, who arrives for his annual summer visit. Ellie soon finds herself caught between Blake and Warren romantically, while the two men soon also enter into a fight over the future of the ranch. When Marilyn ends up in a rehab facililty, Warren struggles under the enormity of Marilyn’s secrets, the fact that her animals are overwhelmingly unruly, and her new bond with Ellie – which convinces him Ellie wants to swindle the land out from under him and the rest of the family. Meanwhile, Blake hopes to convince Marilyn to sell him her land and farmhouse so he can step out of the shadow of his famous rancher father and get a place of his own going. Which man has Marilyn’s best interests at heart – and which man truly loves Ellie?
The story beats here are gonna be pretty clear to anyone who’s read a book like this – you know one of these men will be a seemingly nice guy who is attractive but has no spark with our heroine and the other will be a suspicious man who gets on with Ellie like oil and water but will turn out to be the right guy for her in the end. Before we get there, we have to swim through bloody on-page animal injuries, a late-mid-book fake dating subplot, and a mysterious long-ago love for Marilyn. There’s a lot going on, and a lot of it feels fairly typical. What’s not typical is Eding’s bouncy storytelling style and rap-loving, impossible Marilyn, who’s quite entertaining.
Ellie is, in the beginning, such a weak personality that she seems incapable of telling her mother to screw off – and considering her mother’s attitude one must wonder how Ellie managed to become such a good doormat. This plotline takes forever to resolve and really drags the book down. In fact, a lot of fat could’ve been trimmed here.
What does persevere, however, is a breeziness, and a genuine helping of charm. If you’re only here for that, Said No One Ever will at least make you say ‘that was fun’, but if you’re looking for more substance, maybe not.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier