Monday, August 14, 2023

Only You by Elizabeth Lowell


Elizabeth Howell's heroes tend to be a lot like Sandra Brown's or Linda Howard. They write alphas-of-the-earth: salty cowboy/rancher types who smoke Marlboros and wear Carhartt jackets, and ho around. It's not my favorite archetype of old skool hero but sometimes I am deceived into reading them anyway and sometimes, I even enjoy them.

ONLY YOU came in a bankers box of books that a friend gave me. The summary really intrigued me because it opens with the heroine using her body as stakes in a poker game. However, this didn't come into fruition the way I'd hoped it would. I thought it was going to end up being a blackmailed mistress romance (my favorite trope) but instead the game ends in a shootout and the hero catches up to the heroine and basically forces her to translate and guide him with this treasure map she has as they Indiana Jones their way across the Old West for Spanish gold.

ONLY YOU has Romancing the Stone vibes in parts, but I didn't like this book as much as I might have because about 300 pages of this book consist of the hero calling the heroine some variant of a scheming, cheating whore. He doesn't believe she's a virgin until he sleeps with her for the first time, and then he's like oop. But even then he's an asshole, because he thinks she'll want to marry him, and he's offended when he finds out otherwise because he wanted the pleasure of refusing her. This piece of work also hates women for wanting comfort and security in their relationships because his ex was a big meany-meanerson who wanted to settle down instead of following him on his adventures, never mind the fact that this dude attracts trouble and stray bullets the way New Twitter collects crypto bros.

The writing in this book was beautiful. I loved the descriptions of nature. There was a passage I quoted in a status update about the mountains being enrobed in trees, and towards the end, sunlit aspens are described as looking like "topaz sentinels." If the hero had been more attractive to me, I might have given this four or even five stars. But no, he's a sexist with a mustache. And to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure whether the unappealing descriptions of his Tom Selleck stache or the slut-shaming bothered me more. (JK, it was obviously the mustache.)*

*Double JK, slut-shaming is wrong and so is describing prostitutes as tainted watering holes

2.5 out of 5 stars

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