The Women of Primrose Creek: Bridget
There’s nothing actually wrong with Bridget, the first novel in Linda Lael Miller’s new series, The Women of Primrose Creek. I can’t pinpoint any specific plot contrivance or writing flaw; it just seems unfinished. At just under one hundred and fifty pages, Bridget reads like the summary of an idea for a novel, one that the author never got around to filling out.
Bridget McQuarry, like the other four women of Primrose Creek, inherited a plot of land in Primrose Creek, Nevada. Widowed and alone after the Civil War, she traveled to Primrose Creek to start over. The novel opens when she sees Trace Qualtrough ride up to her little cabin, and she tells him to turn around and go right back where he came from.
Trace has known and loved Bridget all his life. Her husband Mitch was his best friend. Now Trace has come to Primrose Creek to fulfill his promise to Mitch to take care of Bridget, and also to claim the woman he loves. But Bridget blames Trace for Mitch’s death, and wants nothing to do with him.
That’s basically it – the entire plot, summed up in two paragraphs. Bridget is a proud woman, determined to make it on her own. Trace is a laughing, devil-may-care sort of hero who stubbornly refuses to let Bridget drive him off. This certainly has the makings of a good novel, but it would have needed at least a hundred more pages. Some development of the setting, some depth to the characters, and maybe some complications would have made this a much more interesting read.
We never get to know Bridget or Trace, and their lifelong relationship, which must have been a complicated one, is brushed over in about a paragraph. How did Trace become a part of the McQuarry family circle? Was his relationship with Mitch strained by his love for Bridget? Why did Bridget marry Mitch rather than Trace? We’ll never know. Because these matters are alluded to but never explained, we never really understand why Bridget resists Trace, nor why she suddenly surrenders to him at the end.
I also don’t like the clumsy way sensuality is handled in this novel. Trace and Bridget kiss but nothing else through the whole book, which is fine. Then a four-page love scene is added in an epilogue. It feels unexpected and tacked on, not a natural outgrowth of the story at all.
Linda Lael Miller definitely has an ear for dialogue. I could hear the protagonists’ southern accents, and when they argue the words snap back and forth between them, fresh and sharp. She and Trace should have been likable characters with an intense relationship. Instead they’re like people we meet, briefly, but never get to know.
If you want a couple of hours of pleasant, undemanding reading, you could do worse than to pick up The Women of Primrose Creek: Bridget. But I hope that the author spends a little more time and care on the rest of the series than she did on this book. I couldn’t help but think about what it might have been.