REVIEW: The Lady and the Rebel by Kathryn Albright
Dear Ms. Albright,
Readers usually have to wait for a rare non-Regency but this is a twofer bonus of western with an unusual setting even for that subgenre. “Remember the Alamo!” But what’s with the description at eharlequin? The heroine’s name is given as Victoria Ruiz yet in the book (and in the excerpt) it’s Torrez. Oh well….
From the very start of the story, I wondered if I wasn’t going to be in trouble. Enter our feisty heroine with flashing eyes, tilting chin and raised nose. Her childhood friend, now an officer in the Mexican army, clues us in even more to her personality when he chides her for being outspoken and unwilling to obey her father’s wishes that she leave their ranch as the army of Santa Anna swarms over it. But at least she sees the sense in leaving for safer ground and it’s off to her uncle who just happens to live outside San Antonio.
Victoria initially sees everything in black and white but does mature over the course of the novel to see the shades of gray in life. Still, she’s awfully perfect, selfless, devoted to the care of others, makes soup for the wounded men in the hospital, and sees to the wounds of the hero’s horse. She’s still very proud of her ancestral line back to grandees of Spain but then she has been raised with that for her whole life so I’ll cut her some slack. But what happened to her parents? Esteban mentions something about them fleeing and I wondered if they’d been killed or run off their land instead.
Jake is a scruffy hero – literally with the beard stubble – who has a bad childhood, a chip on his shoulder and a mission in life. Though it doesn’t include sticking around and possibly dying for Texan independence. He has the hots for Victoria physically but knows any more than a kiss would land him in mucho trouble with her uncle Juan and cousin Diego. Plus he knows she’s a lady and does have a care for her reputation from the start. But he will try to get a few kisses if possible. I liked Jake a bit more than Victoria.
Jake restrains himself for a long time but since the book is a Harlequin Historical, I knew a sexual encounter was bound to show up sooner or later. Despite waiting for it, the sex scene seemed rushed and one of these “intimate scenes in an inconvenient time just to get one in the story.” And the whole time, I kept thinking of Diego and the other gentleman outside in the cold. Sorry, not very romantic.
I also noticed that the story seemed shorter than even usual for a Harlequin Historical. In the past, I would think there would have been more time devoted to Esteban and Victoria’s initial flight to Bexar, the conflicts between Jake and Brandon but here they were skimmed over.
I was wondering how you’d use the Alamo setting and still manage to have a HEA as all the Anglo men died there and wouldn’t that have put an end to the romance too quickly? I like that you didn’t include information that the characters wouldn’t have know right then as the action was continuing. However, here was a big buildup to an event that most American’s have at least heard of even if we don’t know all the specific details about it and we get no payoff. We don’t watch the bravery, or sheer survival instincts that kicked in, as the men fought to the death. It’s a problem that I realize there’s no easy way to get around.
The Big Misunderstanding was predictable based on the heavy handed clues dished out about Jake’s views on women. I knew it was coming but frankly was still disappointed in him. There wasn’t even a moment when Jake tried to convince himself that this woman he loved might be innocent. No, he immediately thought the worst of her.
Jake’s black horse is named Fury. Did you watch the old 50s show? Fury, the incredibly intelligent black stallion and the boy – oops – man who loves him! Just curious.
So, I will give out kudos for giving us something different. A western that’s not post-Civil War, not set in the Rocky Mountains, that doesn’t take place on a wagon train and that features a non-Anglo heroine and several other characters. I just wish the hero hadn’t been a knee-jerk reaction kind of guy and the heroine such a standard feisty girl. C+