Beyond All Reason by Judith Duncan
Series: Wide Open Spaces #1
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Publication Date: 1993
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With two young sons to look out for and her vengeful ex on their trail, Kate Quinn thought the Circle S looked like the perfect place to hide out. They could build a new life, a safe life. And if love never came her way, so what?
But she hadn't counted on Tanner McCall, the intimidating half-breed who ran the ranch with an iron fist--and a closed heart. Something about Tanner got to her, making her dream of love under the stars and becoming a family at last.
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I first found out about this series years ago and had been searching for the first two books for years. I finally found them at my local used book store and dove right in.
Kate Quinn is on the run from her soon-to-be ex-husband. Although he agreed to a divorce, he got nasty halfway through it and keeps threatening to take her kids away. After the last time he tracked her down (by her sons medical records) she sees an ad in a newspaper for a live in nurse at a ranch just outside of Bolton. Seeing this as a sign, she calls Tanner McCall and applies for the job. The ranch is miles from anything and Kate knows it’s the perfect place to hide until she can figure out what to do.
But she isn’t prepared for Tanner McCall. Instead of the aging rancher she envisioned, he’s young and virile, and the pain she glimpses in his eyes – and the aloof way he holds himself – touches something inside of her. Suddenly, she’s faced with the possibility of a future for her and her sons. But Tanner has been scarred by a difficult past, and he isn’t willing to let someone get close to him. Especially someone who won’t commit to the future.
Here’s the thing. I absolutely adored The Return of Eden McCall, the third book in this series. But one of the reasons I did is because we saw things from both Eden and Brodie’s POV, as opposed to just one. In this novel, the focus is solely on Kate, with no POV written for Tanner. I think this seriously detracted from the story.
Kate is a compelling and likable heroine, but because we never see anything from Tanner’s POV, and because he’s reserved, aloof and barely talks, we never really got a sense of just who and what he was. We learn about his past through Kate. He’s the bastard son of the wealthiest man in town, and although he was close to his father (who lived with him and his mother) when he was a small child, that changed when he was 5 or 6 and his father came back from an out of town business trip with a rich wife on his arm, completely shocking his mother, who had no idea. She dies a short time later and he’s shuffled from one place to the next, because his father’s new wife refuses to have him underfoot. He suffered extreme abuse in one foster home, and was even sexually abused by some of his father’s “friends”.
But Tanner himself never talks about this, or opens up to Kate. She learns about his past from various friends and family members. So although I knew her extremely well, I didn’t know Tanner at all.
Eventually Kate realizes she needs to clear up her past before she can make a future with Tanner, but again, I’m confused about how she came to the conclusion a future with Tanner was a possibility. He never mentions anything about caring for her, or wanting her to be a part of whatever future he had. We’re led to believe (by Kate) that it’s because she hasn’t committed to him, but I just didn’t find the HEA believable in this case.
Not a terrible story, but not an entirely great one, either. The writing is stellar and the secondary characters are wonderful, providing much comic relief to an otherwise somber, solemn novel. But I wouldn’t hunt down a copy just because if I were you.
3.5 out of 5
I plan to review the remaining two novels in this series later today, but I will tell you now they’re both much better than this one.
Beyond All Reason
That Same Old Feeling
The Return of Eden McCall
This book is no longer in print, but you can buy it used here.