Monday, November 1, 2010

Angel Creek by Linda Howard ***

AUDIO: I got this from the library, with narrator Natalie Ross. I like, or have liked, Ross as a narrator, but she either cannot do justice to this property, or she cannot rise above it, cuz I thought her narration was pretty dang mediocre on this book, which is also pretty dang mediocre (or worse). The audio of this book didn't make the story any better.

My Review from August 2008
First off - I got this in a Large Print 2-for-1 book from PBS. Yay! But I have to warn anyone who gets this book: Angel Creek is the second in the series, but for some reason it's the first in the book. Silly me, I didn't figure that out before reading them. It doesn't entirely ruin it, but there is a character in A Lady of the West who appears in Angel Creek, so if you read it first like I did, you'll know a spoiler going into A Lady...

Second off - holy moly. OK, it is Linda Howard, but it's early Linda Howard and although her writing chops were still great, man - it's - well - the men are not just alpha, they're complete assholes and I would have to say what they do pushes forced seduction so close to rape there'd be a hung jury or a conviction if the women pressed charges, ok? Hence my 3 stars because if the writing wasn't good, this would have been a 2 star or maybe even a DNF. She has these men just forget that No Means No - in their world, No means OK, I want it even though I think I don't. Bad. Oh yeah baby like that.

I tried to tell myself it was a Western thing, hard life, yada yada. But I mean. These men just said: "gimme" and took.

In this story, we have Luke - he's the owner of the Double C ranch, with no family left, and rich. We have Dee - no family left for her either, but all she has is her family ranch, not money - and Angel Creek, the best and sometimes only source of water in the region. We have a sorta bad guy - he's not really evil, but he's not all good either, named Kyle, and he's also a rancher with a big investment in land and cattle. We have a gently bred banker's daughter, whassername. And we have Luis Fronteras - he's a drifter from the first story, A Lady of the West. And we have a whore with a heart of gold, Tillie. Are you keeping track, here?? Get out a scorecard.

It seems everything traces back to something that happened 10 years ago, for every character. After the 4th or 5th time I saw the phrase "10 years ago" I kept thinking, what exactly was it about 10 years ago? It would have taken a calculator and some notepaper to figure out what year it was set in - some time after the Civil War (10 years?), but isn't exactly named - just references to what happened some time before.

Luke and whassername have a completely unspoken non-agreement. He figures she is what he needs as a wife if he ever decides he needs one. She is 25 - practically a crone - and figures she'll end up saying yes if he ever asks because where in the hell is she going to find a man to father children before her eggs dry up? Kyle and Tillie go way back - and also sometimes go upstairs for a poke - but Kyle wants to give Luke a run for his money, so he sorta almost pursues whassername. Maybe I should look up her name in the book. Kyle also pursues Dee because if she'd marry him, he'd have more/better water for his cattle. He also offers to buy Angel Creek.

Dee's a stubborn independent woman who shoots anyone who comes on her property, except, uh, Luke. Luke decides to sorta woo her a teensy bit, just for the land, mind you - except hot damn she's an exciting piece of flesh!! So - well - the bastard takes advantage of her when she's down and sort gets her all wanting him and stuff. Damn. He does start to realize that bonking Dee and marrying whassername might not be the best idea he ever had...

Luis wants whassername. Bad. He, of all the men in both books, is a gentleman for all he's a half breed or maybe full breed Mexican drifter gunslinger. He, of all the men in both books, treats his women right (and bonks them silly before offering for their hands... hmmmm....)

The big Turning Point is when Kyle goes crazy and lies to his men, telling them Dee will allow his thirst-crazed cattle onto her land. When they herd them over there, wouldn't you know that she's standing there with a gun, shooting at them? They all go nuts, wanting blood and rape and pillaging. Luis take Dee's side, runs to Tlllie, tells Tillie to get Luke to come save Dee, and then goes back to help Dee protect her property. Whassername doesn't even find out til the next day.

OK - did you need that scorecard to keep that straight??

The writing is good, the story is ok, the men are abominable and practically unforgivable. 3 stars, and only recommended to those (1) who happen to already own the book and (2) have nothing better to do or (3) are determined to read everything LH ever wrote.
audio notes: Natalie Ross did such a fine job on After The Night, which I have listened to 2 or 3 times, that I really expected her to make this one work for me, even though I hadn't thought much of this book 2 years ago. She does voices very, very well - but her narrator voice was just sort of sing-songy and not interesting. I just didn't like it that much, but then I hadn't like the story that much when I read it either.

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