Thursday, March 8, 2018

Book Review: 'The Lady’s Arrangement' by Colleen L. Donnelly

I started this novel anticipating a romance between Ranger Rex Duncan and Regina Howard. The synopsis piqued my interest. It sounded like I was going to get to read an intriguing sequence of events with some sensual true love mixed in. While all my expectations weren’t exactly met, I was pleasantly satisfied with the plot thread of uncovering the ring of Kansas ranch thieves.
I believe Regina, the heroine, would describe this book as a tranquil and sophisticated piece of work that was slow to evolve with its abundance of verbiage. I think Rex, the hero, would say this book would be a great book to bring on an extra-long relaxing vacation.
Ranger Rex needed a false identity to infiltrate and uncover the villains. While Regina Howard needed a new husband’s name to reclaim her deceased husband’s ranch. I quote “Neither Rex nor Regina wants a spouse, but they do have needs.” I interpreted that incorrectly. The “needs” they needed weren’t romantic needs. In fact, this book barely qualifies as a romance for me. The writing style didn’t have the emotional conflict of a ‘cat & mouse chase’ romance between two unlikely people, instead I consider this book to be more of a mystery. The entire book was about uncovering the ring of murderous thieves and land grabbing cutthroats .
The synopsis says that Regina “is the most obstinate woman” Rex has ever known. I agree with that statement. I think Rex deserved a better leading woman to be matched with. She was from New York and the setting is in Kansas. Regina adapted to Kansas but still had that New York style class about her. Rex is a Ranger and skilled at being a rancher. Well, Regina would use these words that most people don’t use in every day speaking. Rex wouldn’t know what some of the words meant and I felt that made Rex look dumb. Then, Rex had “ranch” lingo that he used that Regina didn’t understand but it still made him look dumb. I think this might have been an attempt at humor to make me laugh, however, it made me dislike Regina for the way she belittled Rex and therefore I was unable to connect with them as a couple. This is especially true since there was little chemistry between them. There has to be more for me than “she looked good in a pair of pants” and “he was strong”. I understand that not everyone likes public displays of affection. It was obvious that Rex and Regina grew to care about each other by their actions. Sometimes, thoughtful actions speak louder than words.
Despite my disappointment in the lack of open affection in the romance department, Rex’s false identity to uncover a ring of Kansas ranch thieves was worth the read for me. Oddly enough, for some reason this book reminded me of a Scooby Doo episode. Rex would be a mix of Fred and Velma and Regina would be Daphne. There is a character that would be the unmasked villain at the end but that would be a spoiler so I can’t mention the character’s name. There are clues along the way though and it wasn’t a totally predictable plot. There were a few surprise moments which I appreciated. I grew up loving Scooby Doo so I enjoyed this book from the point of view of it being a mystery.
I do think The Lady’s Arrangement was worth my time to read because it had a nice ending. I liked how it came full circle back to how it all started. I would recommend to readers of sweet romantic suspense and mysteries to give this novel a try. I know my mother and my mother-n-law would love this book because they enjoy clean, innocent, and well written stories between two adults who grow to respect and care for one another.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.