I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Wyoming Men #5
Published by HQN on November 24, 2015
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New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Diana Palmer is back in Wyoming with a tale of love born in Big Sky Country…
Billionaire oilman Blair Coleman has always taken care of his business. After having been used and cast aside by a woman he thought he loved, his personal life is far from his first priority. He knows only one has ever truly cared for him—but the irresistible blonde beauty is the daughter of his best friend.
Niki Ashton has seen her father's friend wounded and she's seen him fight. Blair is the strongest—and most stubborn—man she's ever known. That very heart and passion makes him the man of her dreams, but whenever they've been in danger of getting close, Blair has always pushed her away.
It takes a possible tragedy to strip away all of Blair's misgivings. Now it's all or nothing: marriage, baby, family, forever. But will the choice be too much for Niki…or too late?
I picked up my first Diana Palmer book in grade school. It was one of her Long, Tall Texans books, and 20 years later, I’m pretty sure I’ve read 40 or 50 books by this one author. So there were things I knew or expected when I decided to read this novel that someone unfamiliar with Palmer’s work might not realize. I knew from other books she’s written in recent years that her style has remained very Old School, with a marked advocacy of “old-fashioned” views on chivalry and chastity. In fact, her characters themselves are pretty blunt about calling their attitudes throwbacks to a different era (and this was true even of the characters from books written in the 80s and 90s).
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I gave Wyoming Rugged a steam factor rating of 2, as there are sex scenes, and they do get pretty hot. Maybe it’s because, when characters who have spent the entire novel denying or being confused by the powerful attraction between them, fireworks result when they eventually give into their chemistry. I say “confused as” the main character isn’t, as you might expect, a prude; instead, she’s incredibly innocent.
Niki has grown up very sheltered, with romantic notions about love and making love. Add to that a traumatic dating experience in her teens, and she’s kind of stuck her head in the sand as far as the topic of sex goes. She also has severe asthma, and her mother died when she was a child, so not only is she a daddy’s girl, but everyone around her tends to get a bit overprotective.
No one takes this overprotectiveness as far as Blair Coleman, a colleague of her father’s, whom she’s secretly been in love with forever, or so it seems. On his part, he feels something powerful for her, and when he realizes how deep the attraction runs, he does his best to deny it because he’s concerned about their 16-year age difference and glaringly obvious innocence/ignorance about her body’s reactions to him. His efforts to keep her at arm’s lengths backfire, of course, and the results are almost disastrous. But then again, its’ the very thought of what could happen that forces him to wonder if the reasons he is holding himself back hold all that much weight in the big scheme of things.
This novel is quintessentially Palmer; I believe I would’ve recognized it as such, no matter whose name was on the cover. That being said, there are tropes and themes the author uses extensively throughout her body of work that may or may not appeal to modern readers, especially those who go in for alpha females and such.
Some of these include macho men who spend the bulk of the novel under the misapprehension that they know what’s best for the heroine; age gap angst, in which the man is over a decade older than the woman; devious Delilahs, or antagonists who try to seduce the hero and make things hard for the heroine; the whole innocent/ignorant virgin character trope, which requires that the hero explain what’s happening with the woman’s body when she reacts to him; stubborn romantics with old-fashioned values and beliefs about right and wrong as they pertain to sex and love; and so on. Actually, on that last point, it could be argued that it’s something you kind of have to admire because the characters stand strong in their beliefs even when they are criticized for them. And it’s all too easy to forget the idea that a woman’s body is her own and that she has the right to make her own decisions about who to share it with applies to abstinence as well as to sex.
If you’re already a Diana Palmer fan, you’ll probably enjoy this novel; in fact, you’ll probably see echoes of other books of hers, particularly Maggie’s Dad, Calhoun, and After the Music. If you’re not familiar with this author, you may find that how much you like it will depend on your appreciation of these tropes and viewpoints.
As for me, I enjoyed this read primarily because of the nostalgia factor and because I am very close to someone who suffers from asthma just as bad as Niki’s, so I could feel for her in terms of the limitations this put on her lifestyle. Would I recommend it to everyone? No, but I do know some people I think might enjoy it; in particular, they’re fans of the old Silhouette romances as well as Harlequin Presents. Would I read more Diana Palmer? Yes, certainly. So for those reasons, I’m giving this book a 3-star rating.
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