Tuesday, March 24, 2015
New Review: Deb Stover’s NO PLACE FOR A LADY – Mistaken Identities Based on Lies, Perfidy and More Lies Lead to Love in Colorado with an Irish heroine
The story begins in London in 1888 as Molly Riordan sets out with her mistress, Lady Elizabeth Summersby for America where Lady E is to wed the man who, in a one night encounter at a London masquerade ball, impregnated her with his child. In Colorado, Dirk Ballinger has a cattle ranch, and there he has promised to do the honorable thing.
On the way to the ranch, bandits called the Lovejoy Gang attack the coach Molly and Lady E are traveling in. In a bizarre coincidence, the father Molly is searching for is the driver. She is unaware, of course. As he is dying from a gunshot wound, her father tells the sheriff, who comes to their rescue with Dirk Ballinger, that the woman the bandits took off with (Lady E) is the maid and the woman left behind (Molly) is Lady E. Got that?
Ray Lovejoy, the head of the bandits and Dirk’s illegitimate half brother, has the same green eyes as Dirk so that Molly thinks they are the same man.
While Molly is still suffering a head wound, “semi-conscious and drugged with laudanum,” Dirk (thinking Molly is his betrothed) has a reverend perform a marriage ceremony. Molly is unaware. (That such could not be a valid marriage is never mentioned.) Then, concerned about the pregnancy, Dirk has a doctor examine her (Molly). The doctor just taps her stomach and never looks beyond that to see she has suffered a miscarriage or that she is a virgin. Instead, absent any blood in that region, the doctor tells Dirk she must have lost the baby in the attack by the bandits. The whole thing was a bit improbable.
It takes some time for Molly to tell Dirk the entire story and for Dirk to tell her about his half brother. And then he persuades her to let everyone believe she is Lady E and his wife as they set off to find Lady E (who all believe is “the maid”).
It seemed everyone was hiding a lie in this story as many secrets are revealed at the end. I had trouble thinking of Dirk as honorable because all the time he was planning on marrying Lady E, he was making moves on Molly. And Molly, who knows all this, is allowing herself to fall for Dirk. Ah, well, this is that kind of romance. Somehow, Stover managed to hold all the threads in her writer's hand. And did I mention that everyone seems related to everyone? So you see, this story has many twists and turns on the way to love. If you're looking for an unusual Western with an Irish heroine, you'll find this one entertaining.