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REVIEW: The Pretender (Men of Pride County Book IV) by...

Dear Ms West,

038080302x01lzzzzzzzWhile poking around among the drafts for “Reviews I’ve Just Never Got Around To” I discovered that I’d neglected to write a letter for the last book in your Men of Pride County series. It’s a major oversight on my part and one for which I apologize. If ever a series deserved full measure, it’s this one and “The Pretender” is a fine wrap up to it.

Deacon Sinclair was a Confederate spy during the recently ended Civil War. While on a mission, he met and fell in love with Garnet Davis, daughter of a Union officer. Forced by circumstances to choose between the woman he knew was The One for him and his duty to his country, he chose country. The decision was agonizing when he made it and even more brutal to him when he returns to her house to find it in ruins and she no where to be found.

Now it’s some years later and Pride County Kentucky is suffering for her support of the South during the war. Well, just everyone in the South is when it comes down to it. Deacon’s sister married a local man who fought for the Union so they’re doing okay but Deacon and his mother face eviction from their plantation when the mortgage is sold out from under them. Imagine his surprise, and chagrin, when the new owner turns out to be Garnet Davis. And Garnet’s out for some revenge.

She’s never forgotten the man she loved who happens to be the man she still loves. And she’s got a memento of their time together in the person of their young son. But she’s not going to let Deacon back into her life easily. He hurt her and she’s still not sure if she can handle having him in her life from now on or if he deserves to know about their son.

She makes him an offer to work for her and earn his land back – something that Deacon, who was raised to inherit the plantation, finds deeply humiliating. But with Garnet’s money, he finds that he can afford to buy the supplies needed to rebuild the house even if he’s appalled by the people he has to deal with in order to get them. Yep, it’s post war times folks and deals with the devil are being made all over the place.

Will these two be able to overcome the real conflict between them? Can the people of Pride County finally put the anger and divisions of the war behind them and move towards rebuilding new lives from the ashes of their old ones? Or will the work of Reconstruction in the county be doomed to failure by those who can’t or won’t stand to see change come?

The conflict in this book is real and not something that just needs a
five minute conversation between Deacon and Garnet to straighten out. Garnet took Deacon’s betrayal to heart and her actions cut to his pride as a man. Both hero and heroine are strong people. And both have good and bad aspects to their characters. I think that you again portray the times well and show more of the people and county trying to lift themselves out of the postwar mess the South must have been.

The secondary characters are well defined and have a purpose in the story and plot besides just taking up space. The man who controls the county is Tyler Fairfax, a character I just love to hate. Tyler’s one of those men who thrive in the aftermath of chaos. Though from one of the leading families of the county, Tyler’s life hasn’t been easy as was shown in “The Outsider,” book two of the series and which featured Tyler’s sister Starla.

There are a few problems that keep me from giving this one an A. I’d have liked to see Garnet realize and come to terms with the unsavory characters with whom she did some business and to have the issues with the sharecroppers resolved. And what about Christien, Starla’s son who looks to be headed to hell in a handcart from his Uncle Tyler’s influence? For once I’d have liked to see more of the secondary characters from the previous books especially Noble Banning and Julia (who wasn’t in the book at all). Perhaps you planned to deal with all this in the last (and never published book). The ending is a bit rushed and the character of Monty is quickly dealt with. And the waste of the great villain you had built up over four books is truly a shame. Those Avon bastards should be shot. I end up giving this one a B+ and sigh for that last book.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from the marketplace at Amazon or your favorite used bookseller. The 10 digit ISBN is: 038080302X

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

13 Comments

  1. May B.
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 04:10:21

    The ending is a bit rushed and the character of Monty is quickly dealt with. And the waste of the great villain you had built up over four books is truly a shame. Those Avon bastards should be shot.

    I couldn’t agree more. I love this series and very disappoint when the last book was not coming out.

  2. Jayne
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 05:41:41

    ITA, Mary. When I wrote the first letters for the series, I had tracked down a website for Ms. West and had hoped that she would see these reviews and comment. No such luck. This is a book I would pay to have self-published, converted to an ebook, anything! Who knows if she even wrote it. But I’d certainly love to eventually read it one day.

  3. Patti
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 07:43:29

    Could you please liist the titles of the first three books? I love American historicals and have never heard of this author. Your review has me very interested in reading this series. Thanks.

  4. Jayne
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 07:49:52

    In order for this series: The Outcast, The Outsider, The Rebel and The Pretender.

    She also did two other Western series set in (I think) Montana and the southwest under the name Dana Ransom. Here’s a list from her website:
    Dakota Dawn #1 (11-91)
    Dakota Desire #2 (6-92)
    Dakota Destiny #3 (2-93)
    Dakota Promises #4 (8-93)

    Temptation’s Trail #1 (2-94) (which I’ve read. It’s excellent but you have to keep reading past the initial impression of the heroine.)
    Texas Destiny #2 (8-94)
    Wild Texas Bride #3 (8-95)
    Texas Renegade #4 (3-96)
    Sweet Texas Dreams #5 (12-96)

  5. Jayne
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 07:52:00

    If you click on “Rosalyn West” in the tags for this review, it’ll pull up the other three reviews for the series.

    And note the wonderful 1990s mantitty filled covers!

  6. Corrine
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 08:05:54

    You definitely have me intrigued. I love a good American historical – a subgenre that is so overlooked – and a series is even better!

  7. Jayne
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 08:23:13

    Amen to that. Harlequin publishes a western set historical romance about every other month and I think a few other publishers toss us a bone every now and then but it’s a genre I’d love to see more of.

  8. Sybil
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 09:36:20

    I was going to ask you if you had a chance to read her Dana Ransom books (the second series you listed). It was one of the ones I reread over the holidays and I still adore it. Very much in the vain of the ‘old westerns’ where everything isn’t pretty, bad things happen and times were rough but people get through it.

    I still have this series to read (as well as the Dakota ones). Still haven’t read any of her newer Harlequin novels or her older (Nancy Giden? I forget the name) vamps.

  9. Jayne
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 09:57:24

    Nah, I haven’t read any of the Dakota series and, as I mentioned, only the first book of the other one. I just need to win the lottery, be able to quit my job and read nonstop. Maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to read all the books I have stashed around my house. ;)

  10. Janine
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 23:03:44

    Jayne, I believe you sent me Dana Ransom’s Temptation’s Trail years ago, and would you believe it — I still have that book! Haven’t gotten around to reading it, though.

  11. Jayne
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 04:49:39

    LOL, at this point, knowing more about your reading tastes, I’d have to say I don’t think it’s going to work for you.

  12. Nancy Gideon
    Feb 22, 2009 @ 07:12:04

    Hi Jayne!
    What a surprise. I’d just reread this series last weekend while waiting to get edits on the first book of a new paranormal series from Pocket I’m writing under my own name and then the VP of our Mid-Michigan RWA chapter e-mails your link.
    I love to write series and I love historicals. The biggest disappointment is never getting to finish them with the characters who are my favorites: Randall Bass in the Dana Ransom Texas series and Tyler Fairfax in the Avon Rosalyn West Pride County books. Don’t be mad at the authors. This is rarely our decision. I had a great book planned for Tyler that would have tied up your questions. Sigh . . . The Pretender was the last historical I wrote, though I went on to publish a series of vampire romances and Silhouette romantic suspenses and now, I must admit, I’m itching to start another one. Thanks for your kind review. It made my snowy Michigan morning.

  13. Jayne
    Feb 22, 2009 @ 07:20:32

    Oh I wasn’t blaming you for not finishing the series. From the scuttlebutt on the internet over the years, I understood that it was a decision by the publisher not to continue it. And as so many people keep saying, it’s a shame given the series and Tyler Fairfax.

    So, gotta ask, is there any chance on getting this last book? Or are the characters tied to Avon?

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