Monday, July 7, 2008

Only Love by Elizabeth Lowell *****

I have a mixture of reactions to Elizabeth Lowell's works. Sometimes I just love them. Sometimes I want to scream ENOUGH ALREADY. She has a way of working you over, working over the situation, repeating the issues, using and overusing adjectives and adverbs - it's dramatic and lush and sometimes I fall prey to her work and sometimes it gets under my skin and gives me the heebie jeebies. Go figure. It's pretty much the same in all her books, whether contemporaries or historicals, and sometimes it works for me and sometimes it just doesn't.

It worked for me big time in Only Love. Only Love is the 4th in her "Only" series that star the Moran siblings and their friend Wolfe Lonetree. Only His is the 1st and it's truly a DIK status book for me that I have re-read and loved. Books 2 and 3, Only You and Only Mine, didn't do it for me. I disliked the heroines in both (especially Jess, Wolfe's heroine), and the stories just got on my nerves. So I held off for a long time before getting Only Love. In fact, I reread Only His one more time just to see - maybe it's my mood when I read? - but no, I loved it all over again.

The hero is Rafael Moran - "Whip" is his Western nickname, for the bullwhip he uses so masterfully. It made me think of Alex in SEP's Kiss An Angel, because he was also a master at the bullwhip. Now I really want to see someone use it this way to see if it's true - Lowell has Whip using it constantly, hovering and whispering and shimmering - does it really work like that? (The show in Kiss An Angel when he first uses it on the heroine is so erotic!)

Whip is what Lowell calls a "yondering man" - I guess he's always going over yonder? I have never even heard of that before, but it works. She means, of course, wandering. He was born a Rambling Man. He's been all over the world and is a restless guy, never wanting to settle down. Even with the pull he feels to Shannon, our beloved heroine, even realizing early on she's been in his dreams, he doesn't understand she's what he's been yondering for until the end.

Shannon is a widow - well, sorta like Willow was in her book (Only His) anyway. She was actually under the protection of her great uncle, pretending to be his bride for her safety out in the wild west wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. The one thing that really got to me about Shannon was her inability to see she truly needed to either have someone in her life or go somewhere else, that staying there alone was not only foolish but would be fatal. I had to agree with Whip on that. While I did respect her wish to be independent like her shaman buddy Cherokee, I just felt like she had some kind of death wish to just stay in that dilapidated shack and not try to do any better for herself. I kept trying to convince myself it was because she just couldn't imagine anything better.

Her imagination should have gotten a little better after she met Whip. He came into her life and helped her out - he did the Man chores she so desperately needed done, like hunting for food and splitting wood, and fixing up her cabin. But she realized early on he was a yondering man (probably because he kept telling her it was so) and that she couldn't tie him down. His plan was just to get her into a safe position and leave, hoping she could figure out a way to stay safe on her own. Of course, he imagined her safe and celibate, mind you - it sorta got to him when his own relatives pointed out the best situation would be for her to find a man, get married and bear his children. He didn't want another man having her, you see. Hmmmm. (someone knock Whip upside the head here, ok?)

Lowell's love scenes are so steamy you have to keep wiping your reading glasses to go on (and you have to keep stretching and shifting around - man, she can really get some ideas in your head!!). She winds the tension and the sexual chemistry so tightly it's a wonder you don't rip the book in half and scream, in situations that just crop up and are not contrived. The two of them under the tarp during the hail storm... sigh...

It was fun to have them visit Willow and Caleb from Only His, as well as Eve and Reno, and Wolfe. Jess is only a mention (thank goodness, because I'm still irritated with her from her book). I like reading series that bring the other characters back in for visits, like old friends.

It was slightly over-the-top dramatic, slightly too many adjectives and ol' timey sayings, you know, "he clung to it like a beaver with its whatever whatever*", those things yer grandpappy is always saying. But if you just slip into the skin of the characters and let those things roll right over you, it can work. It did work for me. 5 stars and a keeper.

(* I just made that up cuz I couldn't find any examples fast enough...) wait here's one "as foolish as walking barefoot through a campfire".

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