The Rancher and the Amnesiac Bride
The Rancher and the Amnesiac Bride hits three “wall-banger” buttons from my list – cowboys, heroines with amnesia, and babies. Each of these plot devices have been overdone in series romance in the past few years, and having all three together in one book is simply too much to take. When three overdone plot devices are mixed with a heroine too stupid to live and a hero who behaves reprehensibly, the result is a nonsensical and offensive read. This book well and truly deserves the title of wall-banger – with maybe two or three additional tosses for good measure.
Josie Wentworth is a rich socialite who has spent most of her life doing charity work, though it’s not considered “real” work by anyone around, including herself. Then her brother is apparently killed (though a body isn’t found – do I smell a sequel?). While going through his belongings, she discovers his involvement with a strange woman. Though she has no idea if this woman is connected to his death, Josie decides to find her and tell her of her brother’s demise. Her investigation leads her to the Single C ranch and Max Carter.
Max Carter looks the typical romance novel cowboy – he looks great in tight jeans, walks around without a shirt a lot and considers his land sacred. However, his actions are not so typical (of anyone with common decency anyway). When Josie shows up with her strange story, he somehow thinks she’s after his land. Then (though circumstances too silly to explain), she gets amnesia. Max thinks that Josie (because she’s rich and therefore evil) will want to take his land when she regains her memory, so he hides her purse and tells her he has no idea who she is.
If that isn’t despicable enough, when the doctor comes by and says she has a concussion and should be woken every hour, Max only does so grudgingly. Naturally, during one of the time he awakens her, she is confused (a fairly natural state for her, apparently) and reaches out to him. He can’t resist, and they do the deed. Under the circumstances, I found this extremely distasteful. After their shared intimacy, he still refuses to tell her who she is and lets her believe she’s a slut who seduced him.
Josie starts to work the land, learning about “real” work (as opposed to the “unreal” work and help her volunteerism provides) and Max realizes that even though she’s rich, she’s not so bad after all. Ultimately, the truth comes out, during which she runs off, Max gets hurt, so she has to stick around and help him. Then, they discover Josie is pregnant and she lives in fear that Max won’t want her and that her family will find her and make her come home (never mind that she is an adult). Heard enough?
There are many reasons not to like The Rancher and the Amnesiac Bride; the pedestrian, predictable plotting, the choppy, poorly constructed writing, the agonizingly slow pace. But what is truly horrific about this book are the characters. The weak, bubble-headed heroine and the reprehensible man (this guy is not a hero in my book) of the story are a vivid depiction of everything bad about romance. If there’s anything worse than this book, it’s that there are four more to follow in the series. Let’s hope they’re better, or walls all over this country are going to be full of dents.