Phantom Waltz, by Catherine Anderson

>> Thursday, May 15, 2003

During my vacation I read Phantom Waltz (excerpt), by Catherine Anderson. I'd read Annie's Song and it had been a so-so read for me, but I was willing to see if her style felt less manipulative and preachy in a contemp.

One glance. That's all it takes. Wealthy rancher Ryan Kendrick falls hard—and fast—for lovely Bethany Coulter. A beguiling mix of sass and shyness, naiveté and maturity, she shares his passion for horses, has a great sense of humor, and can light up a room with her beautiful smile. She's absolutely perfect—in every way but one....

A long-ago barrel-racing accident has left Bethany confined to a wheelchair. In the years since, she has known both betrayal and heartbreak—and vowed never to open her heart to a man again. She has even accepted the possibility that she'll never be able to enjoy a healthy intimate relationship—or have children of her own. But there's something about handsome Ryan Kendrick. Something that makes her believe she can overcome every obstacle. Something that makes her believe in lifelong, lasting love....

This was a B-. A very sweet book, too sweet for me, actually. IMO, it verged on saccharine.

I like nice heroes and I'm not a big fan of the cruel alpha mule, but Ryan was too much, too perfect! Kind, handsome, sexy, a millionaire, plus he instantly decides he loves Bethany and is ready to commit to her. No conflicting feelings, no doubts about whether he'll be able to handle it, nothing. And always so reasonable and tolerant: I couldn't believe he didn't get angry when that little twit Bethan insisted on sharing their sexual problems (after 1 time, mind you) with people she barely knew, instead of talking to him.

Thing is, I like a little conflict, and there wasn't muc here. At over 400 pages, the book was much too long. Luckily, there wasn't much "I'm not good enough for you" on Bethany's part, but there were long stretches where nothing much was going on. For instance, that long part where their feelings were settled, they had decided to get married already and it was all about Bethany getting used to life on the ranch. Bo-ring!

Another thing that bothered me was what seemed to be the underlying attitude in this book. I don't know how to explain, but it was an old-fashioned "We protect our womenfolk here" kind of thing. Not that I don't like somewhat protective heroes, but here it was almost a sexist thing. As I said, it felt old fashioned and preachy, and I'm not really into that.

I've only criticized so far, so it looks like I hated this, when I didn't. I enjoyed the book for the most part, so I'd say it was ok, even if I almost went into diabetic shock reading it.

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