Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Montana Fire by Lisa Jackson (Random Read #1)

This was my Random Read for February as well as my first time reading Lisa Jackson and, well, it was exhausting. Montana Fire is made up of two shorter stories about the McLean brothers, Denver and Colton. The stories are loosely connected but can be read separately. I really wasn't a fan of Aftermath and if basing my opinion on just that story would never pick up another Lisa Jackson book again. Ever. I did manage to finish the entire book and ended up liking the second story Tender Trap and it's characters a good deal more. I'd maybe, maybe pick up another book of Jackson's after reading Colton's story but I'm not going out of my way to get my hands on one. There were a lot of similarities between the storylines for each brother which was a little on the unoriginal side and left me wondering if it was a theme Jackson uses often in her writing. In both the slightly older hero dumps the heroine when they're kids over a misunderstanding/betrayal and because she's too young, stays away for years with no communication and the heroine never dates or is with anyone else during the near decade because they still love the hero even though he was an ass and isn't in their lives any longer. At least in the second story the relationship was somewhat believable and the characters were nice to one another and decent people overall. 

Type: Contemporary Romance
Heat: 2 out of 5
Rating: 2 out of 5


"Naive and in love, Tessa Kramer had lost her innocence to Denver McLean under the Montana sky. But when a fire blazed through the McLean ranch, casting deadly suspicion on Tessa's ardor, Denver left and never looked back. Now, years later, he's returned. But will their scars from the past undo the connection they still feel?"

I don't think I've ever seen a more volatile, bipolar couple or one that needed to be as heavily medicated as Denver and Tessa. Now, I'm all for tension between hero and heroine. Some snark and bickering can be highly entertaining and add to the story but it has it's limits and this sailed past it and kept going. For 200 some pages they bounced back and forth between extremes. In seconds they could go from being sweet and loving the other to consumed with hate and going at each other. Tessa was likable enough but let everyone, more or less, walk all over her and determine her life. She'd loved Denver for years and as soon as he shows up again she was back in love with him. Honest to goodness I don't know why because the man is bitter and hateful. He's mean, arrogant and a sarcastic bully. I'm all for a hero being surly and really rough around the edges but he needs some redeeming qualities so you can at least root for him a little bit. Denver really didn't have any to speak of until the last 20 pages or so when he finally starts acting like a decent human being. About the time Tessa finally started standing up for herself. I really wanted to cheer when she finally did. The happily ever after was very rushed and had me rolling my eyes in doubt. This isn't a couple I'm thinking would really last and if they did things would never be really all that happy and loving. Just wasn't buying it. The storyline was lacking as well. Denver left the ranch years earlier after a barn fire killed his parents and left him severely injured. No one was ever charged for the fire but the brother's blamed Tessa's father and thought she had a part in it as well. Denver finally returns to the ranch to get things in order so he can sell the place and be done with it all while Tessa plots a way to buy the ranch from him. All the storyline amounts to is Tessa and her father being accused of all sorts of things and defending themselves against Denver and his anger until the real story comes out about what happened the day of the fire. Neither characters nor plot were all that thrilling.

"Tender Trap"

"Sweet Cassie Aldridge had tempted Colton McLean like no other. But then she had tried to lure him into marriage. He'd been on the run ever since, taking on dangerous assignments in war-torn countries. Now, home to recuperate, he found Cassie even more tempting. Was it time for Colton to set aside his wandering ways for good?"

Tender Trap saved this read for me. I ended up liking both Colton and Cassie and their story. There was actually an interesting storyline that went along with the couple and their developing relationship. Colton's come back to the family ranch to recover from an injury and keep an eye on things while his brother is away after his wedding. Trouble starts when one of the ranch's prized stallion's disappears and all signs point to the neighboring rancher, Cassie's father, being involved. Just as suddenly as he disappears Black Magic shows back up in one of the fields. Shortly after horses start falling sick on the ranch. Colton is sure it's all connected and is determined to find out what really is going on around the ranch.

Things weren't smooth sailing with Colton and Cassie and there was a good dose of conflict between the two and they're  both pretty hard on each other over the past that's filled with misunderstandings, a hurtful breakup and lack of trust. When Colton starts in on her about the past she gives right back and lets him have it. She's sarcastic and doesn't let Colton get away with anything. The first time they see each other again is after he breaks into her house to wait for her father to confront him about the missing horse. 
"What're you going to do, Cassie? Shoot me?" 
"I haven't decided yet." 
I really liked that Cassie stood up for herself from the start and had a good bit of sass in her. The progression of their relationship didn't seem forced and you could actually believe that they cared for each other and were working through the past. Colton really surprised me with his willingness to admit when he handled things wrong or did something hurtful. He really seems to grow up and turn into a good man willing to put aside old family feuds to be with Cassie. I found myself rooting for them and glad when they managed to work things out. Much better than Denver and Tessa's story.

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