The best parts of this book are the beautifully detailed descriptions of the landscape and the characters’ interactions with it. The story itself is problematic. Contrary to the author’s intent, I really liked Carley through most of the story. Although she was a little self-absorbed, she was spunky and independent and determined. When she arrived out West, she stubbornly pushed herself to cope with the physical hardships she was unused to, to prove to herself and to the man she loved that she was no “tenderfoot”. Her dawning appreciation of the beauty of the landscape was enjoyable to witness. Then it all went to hell when she began embracing the author’s (and her fiancé’s) ridiculous ideas about the duties of “American women”, which include giving birth to a “troop of healthy American kids” (I shit you not, that is a direct quote) and serving as her “American man’s” helper as he strove to build civilization in the West, while dressing modestly and unfashionably, so as to not distract the men from their own duties, and not pursuing any interests of their own. This whole modesty concept is reinforced through a running commentary by all Western characters on her fashionable city dresses being so revealing. This being set around 1920, this wanton display included rolled stocking and exposed calves. And a woman so dressed should be neither surprised nor upset when sexually assaulted. Instead, she should be upset with herself for inviting such a natural response from men.
I try to judge all books by the mores of the times in which they are written, but remember that this was published within a year of The Great Gatsby, which also had some things to say about 1920’s decadence, but none of it was about women staying in their place behind their menfolks and pushing out packs of kids and covering their legs so they don’t invite assault.
Audiobook, read by John Bolen. The audio quality was poor, with a lot of static and background noise, and Bolen’s performance was unimpressive. He sounded uninterested in the material, and the voice he used for Carley was a really strange sort of faux-British accent that I guess was supposed to represent an upperclass, East Coast, voice. Rating 2 stars only because I was able to finish and for the way the landscape was brought to life.
Read for the 2017 Romance Bingo. It fits the following bingo squares:
Key to My Heart:
Because the MC has a complete change of heart once she embraces her lover’s philosophy and way of life.
It unlocks her happiness and purpose in life.
Wedding Bells: Because the whole point was to get him to marry her, and apparently, marriage was the only acceptable quest.
Historical Romance: Post WWI. Although it was actually a contemporary romance at the time it was written, so maybe not.
She rejects his way of life and breaks the engagement, then goes running back after her change of heart, hoping that he hasn’t already married another. Of course, HEA, with her barefoot and pregnant for as long as she’s fertile.