In her first book in the Intimate Moments series (A True-Blue Texas Twosome), Kim McKade introduced readers to Aloma, Texas, and its residents. She revisits it for the story of That Kind of Girl, Becca Daniels.
Becca and her best friend Colt Bonner grew up next door neighbors in dysfunctional families in the more impoverished area of town. Becca was the illegitimate child of an embittered mother. Her mother took out all her rage, disappointments, and hatred of life on Becca, her only child. Beccaís life was barren of affection of any kind except for her friendship with Colt Bonner.
Coltís father had been the town drunk and Colt escaped to rodeo life as quickly as possible. Before leaving, Becca, deep into puppy love, had offered herself to him, an offer he had refused. A dozen years have passed, and Colt has returned to town after the death of his father to get the house in shape to sell. Beccaís mother has long been dead as well, and Becca has spent her years trying to remake the plump nerdy, shy girl she had been in high school.
Becca had been the one person who had looked out for Coltís father in his declining years. Colt had been hospital bound during his fatherís funeral and his rodeo future is in doubt because of that injury. Now in Aloma, he is in a place he doesnít want to be, to do what he doesnít want to do, and fearing health problems that he wonít be able to accept his choices after recovery.
On Coltís first day home, sunny, made over Becca drops by to welcome him. Colt is less than charming, which merely reaffirms the shaky parts of her self-esteem. The author involves characters introduced in her former book and the story that evolves is a credible rendition of the rekindling of past friendship and love.
What is truly remarkable about That Kind of Girl is the subtle manner in which it progresses. Essentially, it is about the emotional baggage still carried by adults as a result of dysfunctional upbringings. This is a plot we are all familiar with, but here the resemblance ends. Instead of all the inner dialogue which defines and usually redefines the problems, the author takes us through the workout and resolution of their very different problems in a pragmatic and realistic manner.
This is done with clearly drawn and multi-dimensional characters. The dialogue stays in voice, is crisp and accomplishes the authorís goal, that of drawing the reader into the story while caring about the outcome.
The outcome is a foregone conclusion, but the discovery process along the way and the romantic tension that sustains the story will overcome readersí objections to stories that are primarily focused on angst. The novel stands alone, but the sense of place and appreciation of the secondary characters is enriched by reading the companion novel as well.