Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Romance Book Review: The Maverick

Author: Diana Palmer
Series Connection: Long, Tall Texans/ Silhouette Desire® #1982
ISBN-13: 978-0373769827
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Western


It was really hard for me to come up with a rating for this book because I've seen other reviews and honestly on one hand I agree with those who panned this book, but on closer inspection it actually isn't as bad as reviewers have penned it.

Diana Palmer has made a franchise out of the Long, Tall Texan series. There are over 30 related books to the series that she has written over the course of her career. She has a crossover series of Soldiers of Fortune that are introduced throughout the series as well.

As with most series she has a formula. The series takes place in the fictional town of Jacobsville, Texas. She also has a formula of how each of the characters are presents and voiced. Someone could do a whole thesis on why this series has been a success over the years. Even though the romance market has changed drastically since Palmer started writing in the 1970s, she has stayed true to her theme on this series. In most cases all of the heros are older and the heroines are younger. There is usually the conflict of the age difference or family connections.

She also has a habit of giving out details of professions, history or some hobby that is very old school, but still she has her fans. In the case of The Mavericks all that is true. Palmer continues to build her story in the same light and I will admit there are some things that aren't too original throughout the story.

The worst of which is the whole business about the heroine, Alice, asking early on in her meeting with Harley to marrying her. That, Palmer has done before in another book.

On the other hand, I think she has made changes to the series in this book by starting a murder mystery in the County jurisdiction of Jacobsville and offering a chance to build subsequent books on the plot. For those who complained that this was more Kilraven's book then Harley's seemed to have missed the point that the author was building on a short series within her series.

In the first book of any series the author introduces all the key players, while in the background introduces a hero and heroine of the first story. In this case that would be Harley and Alice. Many times there is no conflict for these characters because there is too much other business going on in the book.

What Palmer did in this book is all chapter and verse to an ongoing mystery series. It is expected that the mystery isn't solved. Only bits of information is placed before the reader so that they will buy the next book, which we hope will be released soon, and then the next. In this case Palmer has three books planned for the "mini-series". The next one will feature Kilraven and then next his stepbrother Jon Blackhawk. (This information was listed in the front of the book in the author's note to the readers.)

All that being said, I think the book deserved high marks because the mystery behind the story was interesting and developing as it should. The place where I was a little disappointed was with Palmer's choice for Harley's heroine. I liked Alice's character as a whole and I think that Palmer made her work well with Harley, but there were several issues of concern. One, of course, being she was too young to have seen as much as they make it seem she has seen in her career. At her age she would barely be able to be out at a crime scene without a supervisor, much less have the experience the author makes her have. Since Harley isn't as old as some of the other Long, Tall Texans, he's probably no more than 30 himself, she couldn't make the female character that much older though.

Also, I agree on the whole business that the investigator in Alice should have realized there was a relationship between Harley in the Senator in some way, especially because they had the same last name, long before she did in the book.

For a long time I was a fan who waited for Harley's story. I was disappointed that Palmer didn't pick one of the local Jacobson girls. She had a good prospect in the Marilee, the girl who was Janie's friend in Lionhearted who tried to take Leo away from Janie. There would have been a great conflict there, but since I don't get to make those decisions we have Alice and Harley.

So in conclusion I would say, read the book if you are a fan of Diana's books and if you like western murder mysteries. It is tame compared to most Silhouette Desire® books and even though it is the start of a murder mystery, very sweet natured. And try not to think so much when reading one of Diana's books. Reading romance is for entertainment, not to be expected to be the same as what you would see in real life.

Always in the middle of trouble, be it during roundup or at Jacobsville county dances, Harley Fowler emerges unscathed. Until he meets whirlwind, top-notch investigator Alice Jones, who is trying to solve a murder involving the one family Harley doesn't want to talk about—his own. Suddenly he's in the midst of mayhem—and all he can think about is protecting Alice. But the stubborn woman is unappreciative of his efforts. What's a confirmed maverick to do? Is seduction the solution?

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