Something Like Love
Something Like Love is a lighthearted and humorous look at the residents and town of Henry Adams, Kansas in the late 1880s. Beverly Jenkins provides us with two engaging leads – Olivia Sterling, a proper, self-employed woman, and Neil July, a train robber. Olivia and Neil find immense enjoyment in each other’s company and, of course, fight their attraction for one another as well as outside forces destined to keep them apart.
Olivia Sterling is a successful modiste from Chicago who flees her home to escape an arranged marriage. On her way to her new home in Kansas, the train is robbed by two very attractive men – one who decides against taking all of Olivia’s valuables in exchange for a future kiss. As Olivia settles in Kansas, she reestablishes her modiste business, lives comfortably for a single working woman in a frontier town, and is thoroughly satisfied with her quality of life. Never did she think she would see train robber Neil July again, but she doesn’t forget him.
Neil July robs trains and is not sorry about his chosen profession. But that beautiful woman, Olivia, captured his fancy and he just can’t seem to do without seeing her again and again. Neil is a sweetheart of a hero despite his notorious background. He hadn’t always lived the life of an outlaw – during the Civil war he fought for the Union and served as a Negro Seminole scout later on. As for robbing trains, it’s harder and harder to do successfully.
Olivia, a down-to-earth, stylish, conventional, and rather composed woman is taken completely by surprise with her rather unconventional feelings and desires for Neil July – an outlaw no less! Among her many musings about July as she stewed about his presence was “Men like him had no business showing up out of nowhere and putting innocent women in flux.”
A proper woman and an infamous outlaw – how would they ever find their HEA? It is an entertaining walk complete with convincing antagonists, lovable townsfolk, and an appearance by Hanging Judge Parker. Characters from Jenkins’ former book, Night Song, also appear and play strong secondary characters as Sheriff Chase Jefferson and his wife, Cara.
Although this is a lighthearted book, there are serious undertones. Something Like Love is presented against a backdrop of Kansas Fever, a migration of settlers from the south to Kansas as part of the Great Exodus of 1879 – now ten years later. Added to that are the harsh living conditions Neil’s people were expected to live after being moved from Mexico to Texas by the government. These sober undercurrents, however, do not take center stage or command control of the book.
An amusing and uncomplicated book, Something Like Love is a simple story. The mood of the book is easy going and there is no great depth to the plot or characters. I viewed it as a book that is easy to sink into and laugh awhile without making a deep emotional commitment. That is certainly my take on a lighthearted romance.