Sunday, July 19, 2009

Keegan Paxton Series by Catherine Anderson

Do you recall my traumatic experience with Catherine Anderson and how I said I would not be picking up her work in the near future? Well it took me a year and a half to get over it before I got the nerve to read her work again. When I finally did read her it was a re-read (Accidental re-read). I decided that this time I was going to post about it so that I won't have that problem again. It also lead me to pick up a sequel to the first book which was new to me!

Keegan's Lady was a very nice read. I found that it had enough bulk to the story to make it worth reading and thus the reason why in many circles it is considered a classic.

Ace Keegan witnessed the lynching of his stepfather and the rape of his mother. He was a mere boy when his stepfather moved the family to No Name, Colorado where he had purchased a bit of land but when he arrived the sale proved to be a hoax and the group men that cheated him on the deal proceeded to accuse him of murder and hung him in front of his family. During the fight Ace was also injured and his mother raped. Ace promises to return one day and exact revenge on the whole lot of them.
Ace finally returns to No Name with a plot to bankrupt the men but ends up ruining the daughter of one of his enemies. His sense of justice and moral upbringing does not allow him to walk away from the situation and he marries Caitlin O'Shannessy without realizing that the girl had suffered at the hands of her dispicable father too.

Caitlin not only was beaten by her father but battered and traded for whiskey which lead to a brutal rape. This has caused her to shy away from any man that was not her brother. She doesn't trust any man and when she finds herself married and surrounded by a gaggle of Paxton men, all of which have a reason to hate her, her life is turned upside down and her nerves stretched to a breaking point. It is with the patience of a Saint that Ace coaxes her to give him her trust and she finds that his every action leads to her surrendering a piece of her heart.

Poor Ace had his hands full with a skittish wife and a brain damaged cat (the poor cat had been damaged by Caitlin's father and led to a few humourous episodes in the book - one of them involving a morning capture of the mouse between Ace's legs).

This book was originally published back in 1996 and it has sustained the test of time such that 10 years later Anderson gave us the sequel - Summer Breeze.

Summer Breeze was the story of Ace's younger brother Joseph who we actually fell in love with in Keegan's Lady. He was the short but burly half brother that made himself look mean so that he could fend off bullies and pass as a intimidating gunslinger. It has been 4 years since Keegan's Lady and Joe has his own parcel of land in No Name. He is trying to make his own way in the world when the foreman from the neighboring ranch staggers into his land with a bullet in his back.

The Hollister's ranch has been mostly empty for five years, since the family had been slaughtered while out on a picnic. The only surviving daughter has been hold up in the house with just Darby (the foreman) as the go between between the world and her. Darby asks Joe to take care of Rachel because he suspects that the man who shot him is the same person that killed her family and will try to kill Rachel too.

Anderson does a wonderful job in describing Rachel's condition and how the relationship between these two develop to a point that the determined bachelor is ready to turn his life around to accomodate Rachel's illness. I also think that the investigation into the shooting was well developed giving us many suspects but not allowing us to really narrow it down to anyone in particular.

I find that Anderson follows a typical formula in her books and I would like to see what she can do when she steps out of her comfort zone. She writes mostly about damaged females and men that come to thier rescue. I think I would like to see the shoe on the other foot or just some more light hearted work. Anyone know of any of her titles that are like that?

I won't be giving up on Anderson completely since these two books reminded me that she is worth reading (just not too often).

Grade: B (on both)
Format: Audiobook


Kristen howe said...

I love Catherine Anderson's books. I haven't read all of them lately. I have one more to get to this year-Summer Breeze-if I can whittle my TBR list. Glad you got over it.

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