"Fortunes of Texas"

Emily & the Stranger

Gabriel Hawk's Lady

Lone Wolf's Lady

In the Arms of a Hero
by Beverly Barton
(Silhouette, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-65039-6
First impressions are so important! Unfortunately my first impression of the heroine of the latest installment of the “Fortunes of Texas” series was so negative, that I was never able to overcome it. I realize that my reaction may suggest that I lack idealism, but I felt that Victoria Fortune’s behavior demonstrated not high ideals, but rather stupidity. And I hate stupid heroines.

Suppose you are a nurse, serving in a remote village in a Latin American country. And suppose a revolution breaks out in said country. And suppose your father, knowing that as the daughter of one of America’s richest men you will be a target of the revolutionaries, suggests that you leave. And suppose, after you foolishly refuse his suggestion, he sends a mercenary after you. And suppose when said mercenary arrives, you still refuse to leave, although you know that the rebel leader is vicious and cruel and that the best you have to hope for is a quick death.

Now, I know that Victoria is absolutely devoted to the people of the village of Palmira, that she is the only trained medical person in the area, that she is possibly saving lives by treating the wounded, but I ask you: is her behavior high-minded or is it stupid? If you conclude she is high-minded, then you might enjoy this book more than I did.

Victoria’s refusal to leave Palmira promptly when Quinn McCoy first arrives means that, instead of being able to fly out of the war-torn country with relative ease, the two are forced to make their way through the jungle, with all the attendant adventures. They also have time, although not all that much, to develop and to act on the inexplicable attraction that develops between the millionaire’s daughter and the mercenary.

The plot of In the Arms of a Hero is pretty standard. There is nothing to set it apart from other “mercenary rescues heroine from Latin American revolution and they have adventures in the jungle and fall in love” stories. Nor is the internal conflict -- “I am not good enough to marry the daughter of a millionaire” -- all that unique.

Still, I do not expect innovative plots in my romance novels. I am perfectly satisfied with old familiar stories well told. But even though Victoria begins to exhibit good sense about half-way through the book, I just couldn’t get beyond my first impression that her behavior is simply “too stupid to live.”

There were other problems with the book, especially when it comes to the necessary interweaving of the ongoing developments in the “Fortunes of Texas” saga. Because much of the action occurred far from Texas, when the author finally got Victoria and Quinn back home, she had to shoehorn all the particulars that further the overall scenario into the last few chapters. Needless to say, this seemed artificial and rushed.

So I find that I must warn readers that this installment does not work as well as most of the others in the series. I realize that the many readers who have been following the Fortunes’ fortunes will still want to read In the Arms of a Hero. Perhaps they will not find Victoria’s behavior as stupid as I did and thus, enjoy the story more.

--Jean Mason

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