The Mackenzies: Zach
Several years ago, I read the debut Mackenzie book. Back then, romance series didn’t seem to be quite as plentiful as they are now, and I was hoping this would be a new one for me to enjoy. While I didn’t think it was horrible, I definitely wasn’t interested in reading the rest of the series. But now this series is eight books strong, with no end in sight. I decided to check out the latest installment to see if I could figure out why this series is still going – and if I was really missing something. Unfortunately, I found Zach mind-numbingly boring, and decidedly worse than the first installment.
Rose Dubois is a Harvey girl, sent to Brimstone, Texas to help open a Harvey restaurant. Rose grew up in the slums of New Orleans with a drunk for a father, and her one goal in life is to marry a rich rancher and live a life of luxury. When she first lays eyes on Zach Mackenzie, he is running with a gang of outlaws. Even though he’s sexy as hell, she is sure a man like him can’t give her what she’s looking for in life.
Zach, on the other hand, is sure Rose can give him what he wants, which is a quick roll in the hay. He pursues her doggedly with a goal of seduction in mind. And there’s more (but not much more) to the plot: Zach is really a Texas Ranger. So although he’s apparently running around with a gang of outlaws, he’s really there to catch the bad guys. Rose thinks he’s just some drifter, and he can’t tell her otherwise or he’ll blow his cover.
I’ve read books with heroines who are out for money and heroes who are out for sex before, and some of them manage to work by making the characters somehow more noble than their shallow goals would suggest. Rose is briefly engaged to a wealthy man, but although that doesn’t work out, she attains her goal at the end because Zach’s family is rolling in money. Zach is commitment phobic for no particular reason; his parents (whose story was told in The Mackenzies: Flint) have a wonderful loving relationship. Nonetheless, Zach falls happily into love and gets the sex he was originally looking for.
So everyone is happy, with the possible exception of the reader. I managed to finish this book by sheer strength of will, but it’s not a feat I would recommend to others. These characters are utterly un-charming at every moment. There is a lot of banter, which sounds roughly like the shrill flirting of eight-graders. There is literally nothing to the hero and heroine, but the villain is even worse. His over the top, cartoonish character is completely ridiculous. There is almost nothing evil that this guy won’t do, but the townspeople seem to just sit and take it. The lowest moment comes when he kicks some strawberry shortcake out of the hands of a child; obviously the author decided taking candy from a baby had been done before.
Virtually nothing that happens is of interest. The author wastes tons of space on filler material, including 32 irrelevant pages on a contest at a fair. This has no bearing on the plot, except perhaps to show how the hero and heroine are capable of solving some really simple riddles which could probably have been solved faster by trained monkeys.
At first I thought that at least the author was avoiding the pitfall of too many recurring characters from previous books. Actually she was just saving them all up for the last quarter of the book, when they appear en masse like a plague of locusts. Frankly, I lost all interest and started skimming from this point. If you’re a longtime fan wondering if your favorite couple will make an appearance, I’d say it’s a safe bet.
One of the great injustices of the world is that an interesting, thought-provoking series like Rosalyn Wests’ Men of Pride County is allowed to die on the vine while the Mackenzies show up in book after book after book. Who should read this installment? Devoted fans who think there’s no such thing as too much Mackenzie. Who should avoid it? Everyone else.