Dear Ms West,
As promised, here’s my letter for book number two of your Men of Pride County series and it carries on wonderfully from the first one with just enough of the leads from book number one and other secondary characters but without them clogging up the scenery unnecessarily. I’m going to include some spoilers/warnings at the end because there are a few things about this book that I know would be hot buttons for some readers.
This is a series that I think is very important to Read In Order! It takes up where book one left off with Hamilton Dodge, The Yankee Outsider still trying to make a place for himself in Pride County, Kentucky, a place that went with the Southern cause in the recently ended Civil War. Dodge has come down from Michigan to be the town banker and is having a tough time getting the Rebel minded citizens to accept him and the fact that he isn’t out to call in all their loans/mortgages. It’s tough going but Dodge is determined. And this despite the fact that he was injured helping to defend his friend, Reeve, in book one. He’s got a bullet lodged near his spine which makes it hard for him to walk and which makes him fight that much harder to defend his pride as a man and that much more determined to stick it out in this place that hates him.
And one person who doesn’t care much for him is Starla Fairfax, belle of Pride County and breaker of men’s hearts. Starla comes back after a four year absence to meet her best friend’s husband’s Yankee friend. Dodge is immediately intrigued by Starla but knows he’s got his work cut out for him if he hopes to ever have a chance with her. He unexpectedly gets her on a silver platter when he discovers her pregnancy and offers marriage to salvage her reputation. It’s only a business agreement to begin with but Dodge hopes for more and Starla slowly begins to see that this honest, true man might be the one to show her that she is worthy of love and that her past can be accepted. And boy, does she have a past.
Here comes a warning: Starla’s father is a drunken sot who abused both his daughter and his son terribly. Read into that what you will and you’ll probably be right.
I enjoyed this one but it’s not quite A level. I think I liked Dodge slightly better in book one. The brash humor he displayed so charmingly in that one is somehow missing from this book except for flashes here and there. But I did like him overall. He’s a salt of the earth type guy and if his slight faltering towards the end, after Starla’s dark secrets are revealed, makes him more human, I think that is to your credit for not making him a plaster saint. But I did have to wonder, how many times can a hero get the crap beat out of him in one book?
Starla acts like a typical Southern Belle but you know she’s got depths. I thought that her slow realization about her feelings for Dodge was realistic and her struggles against and about her past were on the mark. Others might have more to say about this but I thought you did a good job in her portrayal.
The secondary characters show up when and where they’re needed and I was glad to see several of the ones from book one plus a new one in Noble Banning who gets his own book soon. Also, there are several continuing threads from “The Outcast” that carry through and some from this book that reach into the next one. I’d give this one a B+ because of the snowballing of events that cram too much into the ending too quickly but it’s a great addition to the series.
And I have to agree with those who gnash their teeth that no book was ever published about Starla’s tortured brother Tyler. What a waste. Shoot those Avon publishers! Bastards!