Tanner Stakes His Claim

The Wedding Promise

 
Maggie’s Beau by Carolyn Davidson
(Harl. Historical #543, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-29143-4
*

Carolyn Davidson is a veteran author with one novella and ten novels, including Maggie’s Beau, under her belt. She, out of gratitude, dedicated this book to her editor Margaret O’Neill Marbury, and even named the heroine Maggie O’Neill after her editor.

Just dandy, I thought. This book must be great. A veteran author’s dedication to her editor.

Boy, was I disappointed.

The story opens with Beau Jackson, a rancher, finding Maggie in his barn. She’s filthy and bruised from her father’s brutal beating. Beau feels sorry for her, so he feeds her and lets her stay at the ranch.

Maggie protests that she couldn’t take Beau’s generosity without paying for it by working at the ranch. Maggie and Beau get up, eat breakfast, do their chores, sleep. They repeat the process again. Beau thinks Maggie’s real pretty after she bathes. Maggie tells Beau how her father abused her physically and verbally. Beau vows to protect her. Maggie takes care of animals and learns to cook. Beau buys Maggie new clothes. Maggie’s all thankful, blah, blah, blah.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Nothing happens in the story. Everything is just a minor incident that can’t carry the story. Beau is the dullest hero I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter in my romance reading years. Some people say they hate alpha heroes because alphas tend to be domineering. Beau is the extreme opposite. He’s not even a beta. He’s an omega. He asks Maggie for permission to kiss numerous times. Believe it or not, after kissing her three times, he's still asking for permission. I want my hero confident and masterful, not acting like a blushing sixth grader!

What about romance and sexual tension? I didn’t buy for one minute that they were in love in any shape or form. Beau and Maggie’s “romantic” dialogue goes something like this:

Beau: Can I kiss you, Maggie?

Maggie: (blushing and doing all that obligatory virginal stuff) If it pleases you, Beau.

Beau: Of course it does. (Kisses Maggie gently - I don't think Beau knows how to kiss a woman senseless; oh, how I miss Linda Howard's heroes!)

I found Beau merely boring, but I found Maggie alternatively selfish and pathetic. She runs away because her father is an abusive alcoholic. That’s fine; I understand. But she leaves her mother with her father, knowing that her father will whip her mother senseless for letting her leave. Never in the entire story does Maggie genuinely worry about her mother. She only decides to worry about her mother in the middle of the book when it's convenient for the author’s plot (if it could be called that). On top of that, Maggie's a doormat. You can walk all over her, and she wouldn’t even squeal in protest. For example, she boasts how she'll kill her father if he beats her again. Yet when she's actually facing her father, she's shaking with fear.

If you need something to cure your insomnia, try Maggie's Beau. This book worked better than my old college accounting textbook. Otherwise, stay away.

--Stella Knight


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