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REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman

So yes, it seems like everyday is a giveaway but it just kind of happened that way.   I don’t want Jo Goodman’s Never Love a Lawman get lost in the shuffle. We have 10 ARCs to give away to 10 random commenters. One of the books is the copy I read but I wanted to give it away because if even one more person becomes exposed to Goodman, all the better.

I do not envision Wyatt looking like this. ——>

Robin facilitated getting us these ARCs and I hope, come September, she shares her thoughts about the book as well.   I knew this was a good book because the minute I finished the book, I started paging through it to re-read passages and ended up reading the entire book twice in the space of 24 hours.   Now, this isn’t a perfect book. I had some issue with the villain and how that part of the story wrapped up, but for the pure joy of reading a romance, this book comes close to being some kind of perfection.

Jo Goodman’s books are not quick category reads to be devoured in an hour. Her stories are more languorous, delicious and rich, but something that tastes better drawn out like the soft drawl of a southern cowboy murmuring in your ear. Never Love a Lawman is a slow unfolding of a story about Rachel Bailey and Wyatt Cooper set in Reidsville, Colorado,   1882.

Rachel Bailey is a newcomer to Reidsville. She showed up one day about a year ago (or fifteen months, as Wyatt corrects folks who toss around “year” as a marker)    and

“Watching her was a pleasure.   A mostly secret pleasure.   Wyatt Cooper braced his hands on the wooden balustrade and leaned forward just enough to make certain her progress down the street remained unobstructed.”

Part of the storytelling that is the strongest is in the character studies. Upon reflection, I realized that while Wyatt describes Rachel as “a pure pleasure” and we get to see her through Wyatt’s eyes. He notices her long fingered hands and her hair as a thick dark wave.   Instead of being a Botticelli Venus or some other shorthand marker, we get a sense of what really attracts Wyatt to Rachel physically. As we get to know Rachel, we understand what Wyatt likes about her from an emotional and mental aspect.

I thought it was interesting how both Wyatt and Rachel’s lives were informed by their family connections. Wyatt was the more rebellious, alone in the West by choice. Rachel is more of obedient, alone in the West by necessity.

If categories are romances with none of the bullshit, that’s a bit how I found Never Love a Lawman. It was mostly about Wyatt and Rachel falling in love.   There is a sweet secondary romance between Wyatt’s deputy and the local madame and the mystery of why Rachel is in Riedsville living in a home bought by some rich San Franciscan man’s money.   Rachel has the more complicated story arc but her path to embracing happiness had to be offset by a more stable Wyatt.   So we aren’t bored, Wyatt is unsettled by the mere existence of Rachel.

” I want to touch you.”

“I know”

“I think you want me to.”

“It could be that you’re right,” she said quietly.   ”In fact, I think you are.”

“But…?”

She dropped his wrists and tucked in her shirt.    She pulled her jacket closed. “But it’s not going to happen.”

“Jesus, Rachel.” He plowed through his hair with his fingers.   ”I didn’t start this.   You were the one throwing yourself at me.”

Rachel glanced up from buttoning her coat.   Her right eyebrow rose in a perfect arch.   ”Is that really the position you want to take?”

The fact that she was right to call him on it didn’t exactly go down well.

Wyatt is very capable and at the point in Rachel’s life, where she has had to shoulder all the responsibility with very little reward, it’s just what Rachel needs. Rachel is starchy enough to challenge Wyatt’s complacency and stands up to him where most people will not. The townspeople defer to Wyatt not just because of his position but of how he carries himself, how he unconsciously demands respect and obedience. “People think you walk on water.” Rachel says to him at one point but Wyatt angrily retorts “Well, I damn well don’t” because he doesn’t want to be that person with her.

While Wyatt gets his way most of the time, Rachel made him work for her, for her affection, and even her lust.   Rachel’s love was hard won as was her acquiescence.

I found the book to be very sexy (no hairbrushes though) with an undercurrent of wry humor:

“I’m not wearing a corset,” she said.

Wyatt’s mouth had gone dry when she stepped between his splayed legs.   He wasn’t sure he could spit, let alone speak, and removing his tongue from where it cleaved to the roof of his mouth required a conscious effort.   ”I noticed that right off.”

Rachel was encouraged by the rasp in his voice.   ”There’s not much that gets past you, Sheriff.”

Wyatt just takes care of Rachel.   It’s not that Rachel couldn’t have survived on her own. She did for 15 months and even longer before that but he sees to things for her, unconsciously almost.   It was tender and oh so attractive.

I can’t wait to get my own copy of this book so I can read it again and again. A-

This book goes on sale on September 1, 2009. I believe it will be in ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

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