The Clayborne Brides, Book 1
Heat Factor: Candlelight
Character Chemistry: Yowza
Plot: Heroine needs someone to guide her to her new husband. Hero does the job. Love ensues.
Overall: Way more fun that I remembered
I first read One Pink Rose years ago – high school probably, when I was knee deep in my dark, angsty phase – and I remember not liking this book much. I had read some of Garwood’s other books, so I was expecting Unwilling Brides in Medieval Scotland with Much Epicness, and instead got a Kooky Heroine and an Exasperated Hero in the Wild West.
Picking it up now, years later (we won’t say how many, but I am definitely Older and Wiser), I don’t even understand why I didn’t like it, because parts of this book are downright hilarious. It’s a novella, so it’s a quick read, but Garwood still manages to flesh out the characters and their attraction to each other, have witty dialogue, and even include an epic gun fight.
Here’s the deal: Emily was jilted by her fiancé (for her sister! yikes!) back in Boston, so she has decided to completely remake her life: she’s no longer going to be practical and straightforward, but rather flirtatious and helpless (like a woman should be, naturally), and also Southern instead of from Boston, and is heading West to be a mail-order bride. Sounds like a solid plan! However, her escorts keep dying on her, so she needs someone to take her the rest of the way. Enter Travis, who agrees to help Emily as a favor to his dearly beloved Mama Rose. This despite his better judgment, because he quickly decides that Emily is completely wackadoo. To be fair, she does almost accidentally shoot him the first time they meet. And she is completely upfront with him about her planned personality implant.
Of course, the fact that she can be honest with him is the first sign that this is True Love. And he can’t help himself from liking her – a process with starts with physical attraction (“She was also an amazingly feminine creature, and if she could only learn to be a little less crazy, she’d be just about perfect.”) and ends with respect for her brain and ethical backbone (“What bothered him was the fact that he was actually beginning to enjoy her company, though why he liked being around a woman with such strange notions was beyond him.”) They have various adventures with a slew of eccentric characters, and all’s well that ends well.
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