The first book in #1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown’s beloved Texas! trilogy introduces readers to a close-knit family struggling to go on without its patriarch—and to a man in pursuit of an elusive woman who may hold his future in her hands. Charismatic and easy on the eyes, Lucky Tyler is a born rebel. His romantic conquests have earned him his nickname, while his temper gives him his reputation as the family hothead. One night, he gets in a fight over a woman in distress, followed by a night of passion neither of them will soon forget. But the lady in question has a knack for disappearing. When news breaks of a suspicious fire at Tyler Drilling, Lucky is the prime suspect. Now the mystery woman is more than just the object of his obsession. She’s his alibi. Devon Haines has tried her best to escape Lucky. Yet his bold pursuit and self-assurance are irresistible. In order to clear him of criminal charges, she must reveal her darkest secret; withholding her help could cost him everything he holds dear. Either way, she risks losing him forever.
EXCEPT THAT'S NOT HOW THIS BOOK WENT.
Lucky doesn't get in to a fight over a "woman in distress". What Lucky actually does is go to the local bar, called imaginatively The Place, sulks in his beer for awhile, notices a beautiful woman having a drink alone, questions why she's there since "there's only one reason a woman would be in The Place alone", notices that she's being harassed by a pair of rednecks, has an internal monologue with himself about whether he should rescue her even though she sort of deserves what she's getting for being in a bar alone, and eventually heaves a big sigh and saunters over to rescue her. Except she's doing a pretty fine job of handling things on her own when he steps in and makes it worse. As a result, there's a big fight with Lucky and the two rednecks, the sheriff arrives, and Devon takes off.
AND THEN LUCKY FOLLOWS HER.
For miles down the interstate.
MILES AND MILES AND MILES.
Which happens about fifteen minutes in to this book, and that's the moment when I would have tossed the book across the room except a) it was an audio book, and b) I knew I had to continue to the bitter end so I could review it here for all of you and warn you away from it.
Anyway, after our hero follows her for miles and miles and miles, he sits in the parking lot of a diner where Devon stops for dinner. HE WATCHES HER THROUGH THE WINDOW. When he realizes that Devon's rented a room in the adjacent no-tell motel, he waits in the shadows of the parking lot until she's inside her room, knocks on the door, and FORCES HIS WAY INSIDE AND REFUSES TO LEAVE.
Do you know why? Because she "owes him an apology". An apology for what, you ask? Because she wasn't GRATEFUL ENOUGH that he defended her honor back at the bar, even though he ADMITS TO HER THAT HE KIND OF THINKS SHE DESERVED IT.
Let me repeat that.
HE THINKS THAT SHE DESERVED TO BE HARASSED AND INTIMIDATED BY TWO STRANGE MEN BECAUSE SHE HAD THE AUDACITY TO HAVE A BEER IN A BAR BY HERSELF.
Lucky eventually cons his way in to staying, appealing to the Florence Nightingale side of Devon by showing her his stab wound from the bar fight when he was defending her (to him) non-existent honor. She tries to insist that he go to the hospital, but he CONFISCATES HER KEYS and then passes out in the only bed in the room, a combination of the pint of whiskey he downed on the way over and the bleeding from the stab wound. He wakes in the night, discovers Devon sleeping in bed next to him, and they have sleepy, semi-conscious sex. More on that later. The next morning, Devon's gone. Lucky goes home, only to discover that his family's business has literally gone up in smoke and he's the prime suspect in the arson. Devon's his alibi, but he doesn't know how to find her. He doesn't even know her real name. Then there are too many pages devoted to Lucky's hand-wringing about the whole situation and "damning the woman all to hell". Again and again he brings up the fact that this (the fire? his subsequent search for her? the fact that the police think he did it? global warming? the state of affairs in the country today? I'm not sure) never would have happened if she hadn't put herself in the dangerous situation of being in the bar by herself. Eventually, he figures out that Devon isn't her real name when he discovers her picture in the local paper; she's a columnist there. So he goes off half-cocked, racing towards Dallas after breakfast one morning, and shows up at the newspaper and demands that she alibi him. Devon insists that they go to a coffee shop (a public place, so she can ditch him if she begins to feel threatened, which she does when he barges in to her office and shuts the door and physically looms over her), he demands again that she alibi him, she refuses, and leaves him behind and goes back to the office. Security refuses to let him in without her okay, and she won't give it, so he's stuck in the lobby. She goes up to her office and is visibly shaken by the visit.
SO THEN HE FOLLOWS HER HOME.
Then there's actually a scene where she sits in her car and waits for the garage door to come down before she gets out of the car, so that she can feel safe that he hasn't followed her home and can't get to her when she's most vulnerable.
BUT THEN HE BREAKS IN ANYWAY.
AND WATCHES HER SWIM NAKED.
AND REFUSES TO LEAVE.
EVEN WHEN SHE THREATENS TO CALL THE POLICE.
Instead, he PUTS THE MOVES ON HER. She refuses. AGAIN. He eventually leaves, after much grumbling about the refusal because she was "made for him" and why can't she see that, because after all her body is responding to him, even though her mind is screaming no.
Lather, rinse, repeat for awhile. In the meantime, Lucky's GIRLFRIEND (cause OF COURSE he has a girlfriend) is threatening to make trouble if he doesn't propose, and Lucky discovers that Devon is secretly married to a guy who is in prison for some sort of financial fraud and that's why she won't alibi Lucky; she feels like she cheated on her husband, even though the husband tricked her into marrying him and she doesn't love him and he doesn't love her but she doesn't tell Lucky any of those details. There's more hand-wringing on Lucky's part, because he can't stand that another man touched "his woman" and how will he ever get over this blah blah blah cakes. But wait! It's okay, because then it comes out that Devon and the husband never had sex. The marriage was never consummated. In fact, Devon was a virgin before she and Lucky had not-entirely-consensual sex in the hotel room that he barged in to and refused to leave! This is WONDERFUL NEWS! Now Lucky can marry her! I mean, once he forces her to divorce her first husband (which, in fairness, is a jackass, but still). Which is less important that the fact that Devon is HIS ALL HIS FOREVER AND EVER and he doesn't have to worry about her having been sullied by another man's touch! (By the way, have I mentioned that Lucky got the name Lucky after he supposedly lost his virginity to the town tramp when he was fourteen and she was in her twenties?)
And then, right about the time they get married, Lucky's brother's pregnant wife is killed in a horrific car accident, thereby setting up the next book in the series. The end.
Is there a way to give a book negative stars? Cause that's what's happening here. I'm not even giving one star. The writing was fine. There were no editing problems. Technically the book was fine. But that doesn't begin to make up for the HORRIBLE, STALKING, SLUT-SHAMING, PSEUDO-RAPEY STORY.
I swear on all that is holy, you guys, Lucky's biggest issue in the whole book - the whole entire book - was not that his family's business was in jeopardy, not that his brother's wife died, not that his mom might be worried about him, not that he might go to prison for a crime he didn't commit, but that the girl he slept with one night after he followed her for miles and forced his way in to her hotel room might not be VIRTUOUS ENOUGH for him. His relief at finding out that Devon was a virgin was bigger and better news for him than finding out he wasn't going to prison.
WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?
And what makes the whole story even more bizarre is that Brown has Devon identify as a feminist. Apparently she was in that bar doing research to write a column on how women are treated differently. Lucky's reaction to this and most other "feminist" things that Devon does is to call it cute and then mansplain that of course women are treated differently in that bar. Don't you see, honey? You shouldn't have been in there in the first place. Only sluts go to that bar, and so of course they treated you that way. What did you expect, darlin'? And aren't you glad that I was there to save the day?
THIS IS NOT A MEET CUTE. A MEET CUTE DOESN'T INVOLVE STALKING. OR BARGING IN TO HOTEL ROOMS. OR REFUSING TO LEAVE. OR THE HEROINE BEING AFRAID OF THE "HERO".
If I weren't so exhausted with everything else that's happening in the world right now, I'd actually have more to say about this book and delve in to it to see if I can come up with some sort of deeper meaning, but... I can't. These two make Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey look like... I don't even know. I'm too tired and mad and frustrated to think of my favorite romance couples. Mainly cause there are all a little dysfunctional. Which may say more about me than I like, and which is a whole other post, if you think about it.
No, wait. I've got it. Devon and Lucky make Anna and Christian look like Eve Dallas and Roarke.
And I don't want to read books that make me think that.