3 stars and a half

Historical Romance Review: Kiss of the Night Wind by Janelle Taylor

Kiss of the Night Wind, Janelle Taylor, Zebra, 1989

MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Kiss of the Night Wind, #3 in the “Western Wind” series by Janelle Taylor published by Zebra.

The Plot

The book opens with the heroine of the book, Carrie Sue Stover, trying to outrun her past (Carrie Sue’s brother, Darby, is the leader of an outlaw gang, which she also ran with). Tired of looking over her shoulder and worrying about being arrested, jailed, or worse, Carrie Sue decides to take on the persona of Carolyn Sarah Starns, a schoolteacher on her way to Tucson, Arizona. (The real Carolyn was killed in an accident caused by the Stover gang attacking the stagecoach she was on). As Carrie Sue makes her way to Arizona, the stagecoach she’s on is attacked. Saving her is T.J. Rogue, the hero of the book, who is also going to Arizona. His reasons, however, are different than Carrie Sue’s.

Carrie Sue arrives in Tucson and soon finds herself having to fend off Martin Ferris, a wealthy, lecherous businessman who believes the new schoolmarm owes him more than gratitude. Before she can begin teaching, however, Carrie Sue’s past catches up with her, and she and T.J. are on the run. They also become lovers.

As the book goes along, we learn a great deal about both Carrie Sue and T.J.’s pasts, both of which are filled with tragedy. We also learn that they have a common enemy, evil rancher Quade Harding.

T.J. and Carrie Sue leave Arizona after wanted posters of her emerge. They are pursued by Ferris, who is later killed by T.J. As they make their way to Texas, Carrie Sue becomes suspicious of T.J.; especially since he asks lots of questions about Darby.

Carrie Sue reunites with Darby and discovers that a copycat gang, led by the villain she and Darby are trying to defeat, is committing crimes claiming to be the Stover gang. That gang is led by the man the Stover siblings have been trying to defeat for years. Carries Sue tries to get Darby to go straight. The efforts fail, and when Darby and most of his gang are captured, Carrie Sue is shot and seriously wounded. After Carrie Sue’s wounding, T.J. fakes her death and plans to take her to Montana and marry her to start a new life.

In the end, the plans change. Carrie Sue and T.J. marry, decide to go to Colorado instead-the reasons are germane to the plot, so I won’t reveal them- and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Mrs. Taylor has written a book with a strong hero and heroine in T.J. and Carrie Sue, both of whom are well-developed characters. Mrs. Taylor is also a great atmospheric writer; she puts me into her situations with her characters, as opposed to making me feel that I’m simply reading about them.

Downside

While Mrs. Taylor is a great situational writer, at times during this book, I felt like she was writing to a word count, as the descriptions went on and on and on.

The bigger issue for me was the fact that there are A LOT of similarities between Kiss of the Night Wind and the book that preceded it, Passions Wild and Free. To wit:

The heroines both have unisex names; in PWAF, the heroine’s name was Randee; in KOTNW, it’s Carrie Sue.

The heroines believe the heroes–Marshall Logan Jr. in PWAF, T.J. Rogue in KOTNW–are simply gunslingers. They’re not. Their childhood backgrounds are slightly different, but their adult lives are very similar to each other.

Both Randee and Carrie Sue were chased from their lives by rich, licentious males who want to possess them, only to find more trouble upon running. Both want revenge against their tormentors, but neither directly gets their revenge.

It is not realistic to expect any artistically inclined person not to ever repeat themselves. Doing it in the very next work you do, however, is not a good look.

I also wasn’t in love with Carrie Sue’s claim that she and Darby were “forced” to become criminals. This is completely a lie. Yes, a lot of bad things happened to the Stover siblings, but they were NOT “forced” into criminal behavior. They CHOSE to become lawbreakers. Claiming noble reasons does not absolve someone from criminal responsibility.

Sex

Multiple love scenes between Carrie Sue and T.J. Like all of Mrs. Taylor’s books, the love scenes are more about the feelings engendered during the act rather than the esoterics of the act.

Violence

Some “on-screen” shootings, but most of the violence takes place “off-screen”. “Kiss of the Night Wind” is not a violent book.

Bottom Line

Kiss of the Night Wind is a good book but has too many issues to be great. 3.72 stars

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