Nelson’s Brand was my first and, so far, only foray into Diana Palmer’s little corner of Romancelandia. Palmer has got a bit of a reputation in the genre as an author of ultra-macho, hairy-chested heroes and virginal, too-stupid-to-live heroines.
I read this one back when I subscribed to the Silhouette Desire line. They used to run a Man of the Month theme and Nelson’s Brand was that month’s pick (January 1991). I recall never being too impressed with the Desire editors’ choices, and this was one of those books that failed to impress. The Desire staff really dropped the ball by not picking Lass Small’s Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents over this one.
In Nelson’s Brand Allison Hathoway is new in town. She’s got a tragic back story where her missionary parents were killed in South America. Her friend, Winnie, treats her with kid-gloves as, if she’s so delicate she might break at the slightest touch.
Gene Nelson is Winnie’s fiance’s brother. Gene and his brother, Dwight, run their family ranch together, although lately, Gene hasn’t been tending much to his responsibilities. He’s been drowning his sorrows in drink and women. Although now deceased, the man Gene thought was his father all his life, turned out not to be his biological parent at all.
Gene is supposed to be an independent, “I go my own way” kind of man. Not so much an “alpha” male, but a “lone wolf” or I guess what’s called “sigma” male in some circles (I recently found out I’ve been erroneously referring to this type as “gamma” which is a whole ‘nother kind of guy). Sigmas are men who are traditionally “macho” but shun groups and hierarchal responsibilities. Whatever he was supposed to be, Gene came off as… I wouldn’t call him whiny, perhaps emo is more accurate. He was an emo cowboy, a sad, pathetic case, always moping about his woes. I suppose one can say he found some solace in Allison’s purity, but it just came off as phony “dwama.”
Allison is inexplicably drawn to Gene, seeing something him. Maybe it’s his furry chest, cool green eyes, or his ridiculously large…cowboy hat.
Every time these two get together someone tries to separate them. It got a little silly, reminding me of the Seinfeld episode where George acts like a bad boy and dates one of Elaine’s employees, and Elaine desperately tries to keep them apart, because George is a “bad seed:”
Final Analysis of Nelson’s Brand
More than anything, this book was dull. Desires are short books maxing out at 188 to 189 pages, and for me, this just went on forever. I understood Gene was hurting, Allison was hurting, and they found comfort in each other despite everybody trying to keep them apart. Good for them, but unfortunate for me, who had to experience their boring romance vicariously.
I keep hearing about how crazy-fun Diana Palmer books are. To my misfortune, Nelson’s Brand was not one of them. Oh, well, Palmer has written over 160 romances. There’s bound to be a better book out there.