I read this for the Interracial Couple for Romance Bingo and my Series Headway selection.
This book had three couples, with Dee and Lucas having about 50% of the spotlight, Olivia and Luis with 40%, and Tillie and Kyle sneaking away with about 10%.
This story kind of delighted me.
He wasn't a raw kid who felt the need to boast about his women in order to impress others with his masculinity. For another thing, damn if he didn't respect her for what she had accomplished out there. It had taken a lot of hard work, but she hadn't flinched from it, rather had risen to the challenge and gloried in it. The pristine condition of the farm was a true measure of her fierce spirit.
Dee was a strong awesome heroine who probably had a smidgen too much '90s heroine stubbornness to her but trust me, you will love her backbone and will. The way Lucas was attracted to Dee's personality made my face hurt from grinning, but he also had a bit of '90s hero alpha "listen here, little woman." to him. However, when he pulled an alpha-hole move, he learned from it, felt bad, and either corrected it or never made the same mistake again because he saw how it affected Dee and that changed his perspective. Which since this takes place in the mid-1800s I'll give him historical gender role lee-ways.
Desire mingled sharply with anger until she wondered if they weren't the same thing after all.
These two were such cats on a hot tin roof. They bicker and straight up fight but there was also a thread of exasperation that leaned toward humor, teasing, and affection that saved it from feeling mean or hateful.
He felt like banging his head against the wall in frustration, and then suddenly he laughed, because he hoped she would be driving him crazy like that for the rest of his life. Maybe he was already crazy, because he could swear he'd seen a glint of amusement in those witch-green eyes. She loved making him lose control.
Dee and Lucas internally declare love pretty quickly, which I think was forced because of the other couples taking up some room. Olivia, who is Dee's bestfriend, and I'm going to interrupt myself here to give a huge thank-you to the author for portraying not only two women pretty far apart on a societal dictated femininity scale as both kind, passionate, and courageous but also showcased their caring friendship. Anyway, Olivia the rich banker's angel daughter and Luis the Mexican drifter gunman had a swift romance that also managed to make me happy for them. Olivia leaned a bit too heavily on the naive innocent '90s virgin and Luis (I kind of want a novella of Luis' lifestory before he met Olivia) leaned a bit older worldly man sort of being patient and sort of manipulating, not manipulating? her into a sexual relationship. If you hadn't realized this book was published in the '90s,hence the '90s feel but I still think it has aged well. The last couple easily could have been brushed away by cardboard cutout tropism but Howard gives just enough backstory and heart to Tillie the smart and caring prostitute and Kyle the good-looking villain to give them depth and have you caring about them.
This older published book was a wonderful surprise. This started a little slow but all the couples added to the story in their own way and even though the romances felt rushed, I still enjoyed them. Dee and Lucas' feisty, passionate, teasing, snappy, and strong relationship was fun to read.
"God, you're stubborn."
"I know," she said placidly, the words muffled because her face was against his chest. "As stubborn as you."