Truly, Madly Yours, by Rachel Gibson

>> Wednesday, January 26, 2005

With the release of Rachel Gibson's new book, The Trouble With Valentine's Day, I've been hearing a lot about how, oh, good, she's going back to Truly, Idaho!!!! I hadn't read Truly, Madly, Yours (excerpt), the other book set there, for some time, but I really don't remember liking the town very much. So, well, I had to reread the book, didn't I? ;-)


When pretty hairdresser Delaney Shaw returned home to Truly, Idaho, for the reading of her stepfather's will, she planned on paying her respects and getting out of town. But it seems the will has some unexpected stipulations-like the one that says if Delaney wants her inheritance she needs to stay put and have nothing to do with sexy Nick Allegrezza. . .for an entire year!


Ten years ago, Nick had swept Delaney off her feet and onto his Harley, and that's when she really let her down her Hair! Back then, he was a love-'em-and-leave-'em man, and Delaney learned the hard way that she was just a fling. But Nick is as irresistible as ever. And when the ladies at Tuesday night Bingo see Nick and Delaney making after-hours whoopee through the window of a local beauty parlor, Delaney knows it's time to decide if Nick I truly, madly the man of her heart.
Well, it wasn't awful, and I liked the heroine, but Truly, Madly Yours just didn't work for me as a romance. My grade would be a C.

My main problem was with the hero. I did not like him at all. I his first scene, we see him basically banging this woman he doesn't like at all and then treating her like shit. Sure, the woman sounded like a real bitch, but I really don't like a man who's such a slut that he'll sleep with anyone, whether he likes her or not. I'd prefer that he at least have some respect for his bed partners. I came to like him only a slightly bit more as the book progressed. I'm just not fond of the "I had a hard childhood, so I screw every female I can and treat them like dirt" whiny hero.

Delaney I liked very much, though. I liked the way she had rebelled against Henry and that she didn't cave in, even when she went back to Truly. Just the fact that she quickly moved out of her mother's house was enough to make her different from all the other heroines who go back to their small towns. I especially liked the description of her life once she'd gone on her own, it felt very realistic, in that her rebellion took her to the other extreme of the life Henry had wanted her to have. Some things rang very true, like her thought of "It's a wonder I didn't end up dead in a ditch", and yet she grew up just fine... it's something I've thought myself when thinking of my teenage years. Anyway, the great thing about Delaney is that she did feel like a woman my age. I really don't share many things with her (her fashion choices, for instance... tacky!), but I did identify with her in many ways.

Unfortunately, much as I liked Delaney, the romance failed for me, and not just because of my dislike for Nick. I thought that Delaney and Nick had good chemistry between them, but I just didn't perceive any deeper connection between them. In fact, by the end of the book, I hadn't seen any meaningful conversations between them. I don't think they knew each other beyond the superficial, so I didn't completely buy the whole "I'm in love" thing. Plus, the ending, it irked me that they end up giving Henry exactly what he wanted. Sure, he's dead, and I'm not asking them to cut off their noses to spite their faces, but still, it left a bad taste in my mouth that Henry's manipulation had been basically validated.

I thought the Basque angle was interesting, but Nick's last name really puzzled me. Allegrezza? That sounds more Italian than Basque to me, and I do know about Basque names, there's a huge community in Uruguay. I don't know, I might be wrong, or maybe Gibson did mention something about Benita's first husband being Italian, but it felt wrong.

As for the town of Truly, Idaho, the comments about which sent me on this reread... well, I just do not see the attraction. It wasn't as bad as some other small towns I've read about in romance novels (people living there did have lives of their own, for instance), but I don't understand why anyone would freak about having another book set there. I so much prefered the more urban setting of See Jane Score, my favourite Gibson.


Bona Caballero 14 September 2015 at 18:43  

I've just re-read this book to publish a review about it next month. You're right that the heroine sounded very realistic. She's the best character in the book. I guess I liked the hero a little bit more than you, but in the end what you say here is right, and I've seen something like that in one C review in All About Romance - he's the typical male slut.
My main problem were all the Basque references, they took me out of the story, some of them even made me laugh out loud because they sounded so old fashioned! Or absurd, drinking txakoli from a bota? at home? Or wearing a beret to the office?
It looks like Basque people from Idaho is not exactly like real Basque people living in the Basque country nowadays.
You're right, Allegrezza is not a Basque name, and yes, it's the first husband's name, Louis' father.

Rosario 26 September 2015 at 09:40  

I wrote this review about 10 years ago (which is why it's taken me so long to respond -sorry! Comments on old posts go automatically into moderation) and I've changed in many ways since then, but the hero who treats his lovers badly because he dislikes women is still something that bothers me. In fact, it probably bothers me even more now. That (and the cartoonishly evil and catty other woman) have become dealbreakers for me.

And yeah, the Basque stuff was funny. But maybe not completely unbelievable? It's not unknown for diasporas to be much more fussed about keeping up old-fashioned traditions than the home communities...

Bona Caballero 16 October 2015 at 09:29  

Perhaps you are right about diasporas retaining old-fashioned traditions. All those Spaniards that had to flee from Spain after the Civil War and took refuge in the Americas or other European countries, when they came back to Spain in the 1970s usually said that they did not recognize the country, it was a modern developed European country whereas in their minds they still had this picture of a rural 1930s landscape. Perhaps those people in Idaho whose great-great-grandparents were born in the Basque country still think about idyllic caserĂ­os and not the modern Guggenheim Bilbao, for instance, or the great Mundaka wave, 'one of the best lefts of the world' -wikipedia says.

Rosario 18 October 2015 at 08:22  

Yeah, that would make sense to me. Not only that, there's usually a concerted effort to keep up the traditions: in Uruguay there are a number of Basque and Galician centres dedicated to do that, and I'm sure it's similar in other countries.

PS - I have to go to Bilbao for work every now and then and once I had a free day after a conference and got on a few cercanias trains. Among other places, I visited Mundaka :)

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