This is another of the books I’ve read in my marathon charge through a bunch of Elizabeth Lowell’s older romance works, and it’s the last of the “Only” quartet and related duology. Unfortunately, it’s also my second to least favorite.
Lowell’s writing here is certainly about on par with the other works, but the biggest beef I have with this story is a hero who really needs to be punched right in the jaw. Right out of the gate, Hunter Maxwell is convinced that Elyssa Sutton is the “town flirt”, which is code for the “town’s rampaging slut”, and he has no real evidence to believe this whatsoever: just the flimsy word of one minor NPC who’s an ass anyway. He gives her constant shit about it, up until the obligatory “but I’m going to go at it with you like rabid coyotes” scene, and all I could think through most of the story was “wait, and there were readers that found this behavior sexy? Da hell?”
Bah. It’s a shame, because as with the other stories, this one’s not without decent suspense. Sure, the Culpepper Clan is providing stock Bad Guys right out of central casting, but okay, even given that, the whole scenario with their trying to take over the ranch next door and how they’re holding an important side character hostage is entertaining enough. But our so-called hero Hunter’s behavior to Elyssa all throughout the story, even given how he’s all bitter and stuff because the Culpeppers murdered his wife and child and his wife was an actual rampaging slut anyway, really was more annoying than sexy. Lowell’s done quite a bit better since this book, fortunately. For this one, two stars.