WELCOME TO COWBOY SEASON!!!!
This little guy – I mean, BIG guy! Great big huge guy! So big! It’s a good size! – is more of a romance novella than a romance novel. It’s very short (no offense!!!!), but it comes in a collection of 3, all of similar length (which is fine!), so all together they give the appearance of being a regular-size book. Which is…fine. Look, frankly, it’s not very satisfying. OKAY I SAID IT, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?!
So in the first novella, “Redbird,” we’ve got Hank (good, solid cowboy name – HANK), who’s hiding out at this cabin near a ski resort while he tries to write new music for his band. See, Hank is both a rock star AND a former pro-football player, so he’s VERY manly. Also, he’s quite tall and broad and has a big beard. Basically Hank is the kind of dude who women can’t be around without their underpants falling off. Hank just wants to be left alone, and he doesn’t trust women or the media (buncha whores and liars, RIGHT?), and he’s also trying to keep reporters from finding out that his band mate/lead singer is pregnant and bed-ridden on doctor’s orders because, I don’t know, it’s nobody’s business. And of course it isn’t, but I was sort of amused by how big of a deal it was to him that this be COMPLETELY SECRET. So he sees this woman with binoculars SPYING on him and he gets all hopped up on testosterone and he goes to the resort to track her down. And he finds her! So he kidnaps her to prevent her from leaving the resort and filing her big story. I don’t know what the story would even be like. How can you spin a dangerous pregnancy to make it gossip-worthy? “ROCK STAR PREGNANT BY HUSBAND!” “SINGER’S PREGNANCY WORRIES FRIENDS!” “ASSHOLE FETUS ENDANGERS PRETTY ROCK STAR, SELF!” It’s not a very salacious headline. But Hank is VERY CONCERNED and wants to help keep her secrets safe, so okay Hank. Now this woman that he’s kidnapped, Poppy, is not super upset at being kidnapped. She sort of behaves like she’s just playing along. Like, “hey! What’s going on here? Where are you taking me? Oh, to your cabin? Oh. Well, all right. I want you to know that I’m very inconvenienced, though.” She doesn’t fight, she doesn’t try to escape, she doesn’t even really raise her voice that much. The whole situation is very strange. She DOES call him a bear because he has a big bushy beard and he’s enormous. Oooh, wicked burn Poppy! Claws out, girl! By the time he realizes that she’s NOT actually a reporter – she was bird-watching! – it’s too late and they’re trapped in his cabin by a blizzard. So what does Poppy do? She heads to the kitchen and starts cooking! OF COURSE SHE DOES. What a good little lady. Like I’ve always said: the surest way to your kidnapper’s heart is a biscuit. Oh, and there’s kissing. OF COURSE THERE WOULD BE.
Then Hank goes outside to do some really macho wood-chopping, and while he’s outside Poppy explores the cabin and plays a bit on his piano. Then they have a conversation about music and she realizes who he is and is very embarrassed to not have recognized him right away. Gosh, I hope she hasn’t hurt his delicate feelings! It ends up not being his feelings that are hurt, since he didn’t bundle up against the cold while chopping wood and he ends up getting sick. But it’s okay! Poppy is a doctor! So she doctors him. But he’s NAKED! Oh good heavens! Poppy finds this very upsetting, so Hank takes the opportunity to try to pressure her into doing things and touching places that she doesn’t feel comfortable doing or touching. And they say chivalry is dead! Then she bathes him with a sponge, semi-sexily, and he likes that plenty. But then she admits that she’s not a doctor, she’s a VETERINARIAN. Haha, oh, Poppy! Then she’s like, ok Hank time to go to sleep, and Hanks is like, you should sleep next to me!, and Poppy is like, yes that makes sense. When they wake up she makes him eat and then he wants a bath. A real bath, in a bath tub. NAKED. With COMPANY. But Poppy says no thanks and instead they talk about what a bitch his ex-wife turned out to be, and how Poppy is saving herself for marriage because no one who has ever had sex with someone they are not married to is capable of being monogamous in a marriage. NO ONE. That’s science, folks! Then Hank…AGREES WITH HER, because his ex-wife was such a whore. And also she was the only woman he’s ever been with! But he was so emasculated by her cheating that now he can’t get it up. Except for Poppy. True love!!!!!!! So then he tries to pressure her into letting him put it in her, but she stays firm on the no sex outside of marriage thing. Hank is pretty terrible, for real.
(This is probably the least sex-positive romance novel I’ve ever read. Yikes.)
Then he recovers and she helps him write the song he’s been trying to work on and then she cooks him some more food and talks about her dad (who was a chef or a bucking bull manager, depending on which part you’re at in the story) and talks about her job and how happy she is to be a partner in the business and he’s like, you know they’re just using you and they don’t care about you, which I think is a pretty big leap for a guy to make who’s only talked to her about her job for about a minute. WHATEVER HANK. Then they also promise to keep in touch because they really like each other. Barrrrrrrrrffffffffffffff. So Poppy goes back to her job – and of course they were totally using her, gosh Hank is so smart – and works real hard for awhile and then she gets a new job that she likes more but they’re like, we can’t make you partner, and Poppy is like, oh that’s totally fine I have discovered that being partner is a big drag and I’d rather just being an underling forever so I can take time off to have Hank’s babies! Also she writes to Hank a few times but never hears anything back from him and then SIX MONTHS GO BY WITHOUT A DAMN WORD FROM HANK, though in the meantime he’s released that album and dedicated it to her and also his lead singer’s baby got born, yay for them. Then one night Hank shows up at the vet clinic and he’s all shaven and looking good and has all kinds of excuses about how busy he’s been and how he never stopped thinking about her and blah blah blah and will she marry him???? Will she, after spending five days in his company after he kidnapped her and then six months being ignored by him, be willing to marry him now and also start having babies right away because that is what he wants to do???? OF COURSE SHE WILL. So they get married ASAP so that they can finally, finally have some sex – which is, of course, mind-blowing. I’ll let Poppy tell you HOW mind-blowing:
“…it was the most profound experience of her entire life.”
THAT mind-blowing! Whew! Thank goodness it lived up to the hype and the novella didn’t end with her being like, “that’s IT? Fuck you, Hank! Fuck you, you horrible fucking jackass kidnapper! Hank! HANK!!! WAKE UP! I’m talking to you!” I mean, of course that would never happen, because that’s not the kind of ending we want in our romance novels. Everyone gets a happy ending and the sex is always good. Even if they are an insufferable douchebag like Hank who spends the entire story trying to get it in and parroting ridiculous clichés about life and relationships.
Hat tip to Diana Palmer for fitting so much horror into 127 scant pages. Masterful work, truly! I’m so excited to see whether or not the other 2 can keep up the same vomitous momentum!!!!