Tag Archives: Contemporary Western Romance

woman hater palmer

Category Romance Review: Woman Hater by Diana Palmer

category romance
Woman Hater by Diana Palmer
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Romance #532
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 188
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Woman Hater by Diana Palmer

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Woman Hater (what a title!) by Diana Palmer is a 1987 Silhouette Romance that seems to be typical of the author’s style. The heroine is a young virgin, escaping from a tragic past. The hero is a macho, “alpha-male” who was also burned by the past. He is an unabashed “woman-hater.”

The Plot

Nicole White is a secretary at a prominent Chicago firm. She comes from a well-heeled family from Kentucky, blue-bloods to the core, plus cold and unloving. Her parents’ marriage was unhappy. Her father was a serial adulterer. When Nicole decided to cut contact with her family, her fiance dumped her. Then he got engaged to another prominent heiress, breaking Nicole’s heart in the process.

Distraught, Nicole has now moved to the big city to start over. Currently, her boss is suffering from an ulcer. The doctor recommends relaxation for a month. As he still has business matters to attend to, he requires the services of his secretary. So Nicole accompanies her boss to his family ranch in Montana.

There she meets Winthrop Christopher, her boss’s brother. Winthrop is a hairy-chested, cigarette-smoking cowboy stud who makes the virginal Nicole quiver with desire.

Regardless, he can’t deny his attraction to sweet Nicole. He pursues her even as he spurns her.

Years ago, Winthrop was in a car accident and almost lost his leg. His beautiful girlfriend summarily dumped him rather than deal with a disabled partner. Embittered by the past, Winthrop makes no bones about being a “woman-hater.”

Winthrop doesn’t trust women, and he knows Nicole has secrets. Her great sin? She denies her wealthy roots and lies to Winthrop when he asks her if she’s related to the wealthy Whites of Lexington. Winthrop and Nicole are drawn inexorably together, but when Winthrop discovers Nicole’s “treachery,” he dismisses her as having no honor, like all other women.

Will Winthrop realize that women–Nicole in particular–aren’t to be despised?

He groaned her name as he bent, his mouth so tender, so exquisitely gentle with hers that tears ran hotly down her cheeks. He was the world, and everything in it. She loved him so.

Final Analysis of Woman Hater

Woman Hater was my second foray into the world of Diana Palmer. I appreciated this one more than the other Palmer I read, Nelson’s Brand. The heroes in both books were manly caricatures who thought they ruled the roost. They kept their heroines at arm’s length, even as they lusted after them. Thankfully Winthrop wasn’t as emo as Gene Nelson. I can’t stand a whiny hero. Although Winthrop had his dark moments, overall, an allure about him made him intriguing.

Nicole’s issues with her family come to a head, and she deals with her insecurities. Of course, love wins out in the end. Together Winthrop and Nicole are healed through its power.

I wouldn’t consider Woman Hater exceptional, although it was a solid read. The emotional connection between the main characters was a nice touch. I can see why Palmer has millions of fans, using a tried and true formula that sells.

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
3
Overall: 3.2

Synopsis:

Everyone in Nicole White’s office knew their boss’s mysterious older brother kept away from women at all costs. After being burned in the past, brooding Winthrop Christopher was now twice shy, to say the least. So when Nicole traveled to Winthrop’s Montana home, she was prepared for a standoffish host…and instead found the most intriguing man she’d ever met.

After his ex-fiancée left him high and dry, Winthrop refused to give any woman the time of day. Despite his determination to keep young Nicki at bay, however, this Montana man unexpectedly found himself desiring love again. Could Winthrop learn to put aside his deep-seated mistrust and learn to love the innocent beauty who stole his heart? 

WOMAN HATER by Diana Palmer
country bride

Category Romance Review: Country Bride by Debbie Macomber

Country Bride, Debbie Macomber, Harlequin, 1990, Will Davies cover art

Harlequin Romance #3059

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 🙂

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Debbie Macomber‘s Country Bride was my introduction to this hugely popular author. I’m ashamed to admit that although I’ve read a handful of her romances, I had no idea that Debbie Macomber was such a commercial hit with her small-town romances. Up until recently, I had no clue that she’s got a whopping 200 million books in print and has written several movies for the Hallmark channel.

Country Bride was released in 1990. I recall really loving it. This book maintains a largely positive rating overall. But I was surprised that the top Amazon and Goodreads reviews were negative. They blamed the heroine for being too self-centered or the hero for being too overbearing. I thought nostalgia might have colored my opinion of this book, but after a recent re-read, my feelings on Country Bride remain unchanged; I love this little series romance, and a big reason was the hero, Luke.

The Plot

Country Bride is the sequel to Macomber’s A Little Bit Country, and I read the books in reverse order, which negatively affected my opinion of the first book in the series. In A Little Bit Country, countryman Clay dumped his girlfriend and fiancee, Kate Logan, for Rorie, a city girl. Country Bride picks up at Rorie and Clay’s wedding, where the heroine keeps up a brave face, pretending to be happy for the newly wedded couple, even though she’s heartbroken inside. Giving her support is her long-time ranch foreman, Luke Rivers.

I was really into soap operas back when I first read this book, so my head did a bit of mental casting for Luke. I pictured him as actor Randolph Mantooth, of Emergency fame, whom I knew from the ABC daytime soap Loving as the smooth, level-headed half of the super couple Alex and Ava. Ava was a manic, crazy “bad-girl,” a perfect foil for the sedate Alex. (Side note: you could always tell who Loving’s big couples were because of the alliteration, like Trisha and Tucker, Rocky and Rio, etc., although lots of soaps did that, too).

I thought Mantooth’s handsome, even-keeled attitude fit perfectly for Luke.

Lisa Peluso & Randolph Mantooth, aka “Ava & Alex” from “Loving

Anyway, Kate downs one too many champagnes at Rorie and Clay’s wedding reception and flirts outrageously with Luke, going so far as to propose to him. The next day she’s embarrassed. But Kate is sure that Luke will quietly forget all about her silliness. To her shock, he’s insistent that the proposal was real, and what’s more, that Kate has feelings for him.

He stands firm on acting if their engagement is genuine and that they truly are a couple. That confession blindsides Kate. Where had all this come from? To her, Luke was just dependable, reliable Luke. He was always there to do what was expected of him. How dare he act as if he knows what’s in her heart?

It’s All About Perspective

Now I suppose if I have imagined Luke like this:

“Pizza the Hutt” from “Spaceballs'”

I would have thought Luke’s behavior was pushy and creepy. But in the land of romance, our heroes are always handsome, and on rare occasions that they aren’t, they have lots of magnetism that draws people to them.

Kate is stubborn. Luke is a bullheaded man. The two are certain that their way is right. Luke calls Kate his “princess,” which is a bit squicky. However he knows Kate is a high-maintenance type of gal, and he’s up to the task been of keeping her happy. He’s tired of being ignored. So he takes advantage of the best opportunity he gets to show Kate her love for Clay was an illusion.

Final Analysis of Country Bride

I think it’s possible that readers who dislike this romance don’t like heroes who claim to know the heroine’s mind better than she does hers, which is a fair argument. It’s just in this case, Luke’s right. Kate’s feelings for Clay might have been genuine, but they never ran deep. She just saw him as the perfect guy and partner. Kate, who tried to cultivate a reputation as the perfect woman, had her mind fixated on Clay. It was never truly her heart.

This over 30-year-old small-town romance may seem from another world entirely and may not appeal to modern readers who don’t like men who come on as strong as Luke did. I don’t mind it if it’s presented appealingly. For me, this book worked. I thought this was a sweet romance about two people who made an unusual but convincing pair and would rank it as one of the better Harlequin Romances I’ve read.

Nelsons Brand palmer

Category Romance Review: Nelson’s Brand by Diana Palmer

category romance
Nelson's Brand by Diana Palmer
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Desire #618
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 188
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Nelson’s Brand by Diana Palmer

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

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 Nelson’s Brand back when in the 1990s 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.

The Plot

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.

Allison is inexplicably drawn to Gene, seeing something in him. Maybe it’s his furry chest, cool green eyes, or his ridiculously large…cowboy hat.

The Bad Seed Hero

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 a “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 “masculine” but shun groups and hierarchies.

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.”

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, Nelson’s Brand was dull. Silhouette Desires are short books, maxing out at 188 to 189 pages. In my eyes, 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.

Unfortunately for me, I had to vicariously experience their boring romance.

I keep hearing about how crazy-fun Diana Palmer’s 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.

(COVER POINTS DO NOT COUNT TOWARDS RATING)

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
1.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 2.5